Recording landscaping plants

I will be going on vacation in a couple of weeks and there will be a lot of landscaped flowerbeds in the area, probably full of exotics. Is there any interest or need to add these observations to iNaturalist? Is there any other option other than captivate/cultivated to mark these types of observations?



While it’s not the primary purpose of iNat, I see two benefits: one, it can help you and others ID the plants. I’m not just talking about the CV, I’m talking about the fact that you can use past observations to help you ID a challenging plant, and taking good pictures of rare, cultivated plants can aid in the identification of those plants in the wild.

The second potential benefit I see is that, if iNat continues to operate for centuries, it will provide a record of plant invasions from horticultural use.

Just remember to always mark cultivated observations as such. And keep in mind that there are other apps that are better at IDing garden plants than iNaturalist is. And don’t over-do it, we don’t need 50 more observations of boxwoods from the same garden. But there are some benefits to consider.

One final thought: look out for spiders, bugs, and other critters on the flowers. Those make great iNat observation opportunities.


This is a huge thing. If you’re interested in exotic flowers, even if captive, upload them! You should do what is interesting for you. And while you’re looking at the plants, really stare and scan for any movement. You’re likely to find insects this way, as well as fungal or viral infections on plants. A lot of instances of leaf damage like leaf spots or strange marks can be traced back to species level or at least genus. I’ve encountered many insects especially unintentionally by just inspecting plants, many of which are planted. If that’s how you interact with nature, please do share it, and also please be open to finding other things inadvertently! I suggest it so strongly because I feel a lot of those little things are overlooked and missed unless you keep them in mind. I’m a firm believer that if you hunker down and stay around one tree or bush or plant for even a few minutes, you should be able to in theory find multiple other living things on it. If you can’t, it’s bad luck. That’s not fun for everybody so don’t do that if it isn’t fun, but I think it’s a good thing to try especially if you’re worried about getting good data out of captive/casual observations. Just take a few extra moments to inspect for the little guys that might be there that you don’t notice at first.


I’d say it’s best to not do this and focus on insects, fungi, weeds, etc.



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I’ve just spent the past few days trying to clear pages full of cultivated plants from the City Nature Challenge for my local area, where some users posted photos of the same few cultivated species, such as Echeveria, Kalanchoe, Aloe hybrids, palms, and Agave over and over again.

I don’t mind when users observe cultivated plants if they post only a few of each as observations. It was a bit frustrating as an identifier to try clearing these I referred to above as it was a bit excessive and which I felt didn’t really contribute to the spirit of the Challenge.

I agree, cultivated plant observations can be quite useful as they can indicate sources of nearby exotic plant invasions, and can serve as the catalyst of biotic interactions for native and other introduced species (such as birds eating berries, insects visiting flowers, and associated fungi).

Moderation and judicious application is key.

Edit: and don’t forget to mark those cultivated plants as ‘captive’!


That is what I am trying to avoid doing!


I usually only bother with planted things if they’re going to be there for decades (e.g park and street trees) or I want to identify them for another observation (e.g leaf mines or pollinators on them).

A couple of times I’ve done it because there’s few good references of them, and a couple of times because whilst they were very vigorous within a garden, they haven’t yet escaped - things overtopping the fence, desperate to sucker or layer itself out of there.


I agree with this. About 1/3 of my observations of animals are doing exactly this in my family’s garden (which isn’t small, but it’s not massive either).
So far, in that area, I have observed 441 different species of animal (mostly insects).


I just photographed every species planted in a pollinator garden at a visitor center in the Smoky Mountains. I haven’t uploaded any of these as observations yet but part of my motivation for doing this was to document what is cultivated in this spot as an FYI for myself and other identifiers in this area so we can be better informed which observations to mark cultivated while ID’ing. Many of these plants also grow naturally nearby while others seemed a bit more out-of-range. I’m wondering what the best way to get this information to other identifiers might be. Maybe create a project for the pollinator garden?

As others have said, I think these kinds of observations are still useful for several purposes: documenting interactions (e.g. which plants are available to pollinators in the area?), documenting phenology (e.g. are there differences in flowering times between cultivated/fertilized/watered plants and plants of the same species growing wild in the area?), documenting the source of nearby naturalizing populations, or a chance to get some good reference pictures for a species.


NC or TN side?

TN - Sugarlands

I think a project is a good use for this. You could write a journal post for the project describing your motivation, what the project contains, and why.

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@tommy_dye – Why don’t you want to mark the plants cultivated? If it’s because cultivated plants are slow to get ID’s? If so, please vote for the feature request to separate the cultivated/wild dimension from the RG/Needs ID dimension:

If that’s not the problem, what is?

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What are good apps for id’ing cultivated plants?

PictureThis, but there are many others. In my experience these other apps tend to struggle on wild plants but do very well on houseplants and typical garden/landscape plants.

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But - if you use iNat’s CV for Visually Similar (instead of Seen Nearby) you can pick up exotic garden plants, which are Wild elsewhere on iNat.

For obvious eye candy for humans cultivars - any app will do. Also Google Lens.

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How do I set the CV for Seen Nearby instead of Visually similar?

If you are using the Compare tool it is a dropdown.

Click the dropdown? There are various options. I try them out to see what gives me a useful answer. Most obs vs checklist, etc.
150? not useful.
But 10, okay will check thru them.

Seen Nearby often sends me to the Distribution map to see why - today - a citrus obs offered me (for Cape Town) a finger lime from Australasia. It just needs one obs ID to slip sideways and trigger ‘Seen Nearby’