Reviewing etiquette with house and yard plants?

I’m sure this is a perennial question (pun intended) and I did search for an answer already, didn’t find one.
I noticed a big spike recently in the number of submission of (mostly) yard plants but also house plants and some domestic animals. Many are users with only one or a couple of observations.
I’m wondering what the community thinks is a good approach to reviewing these.

My preferred approach is to first add an ID (I assume that’s what the user is hoping for when they posted it), then to mark it as “Cultivated”. Today I started adding a simple note “Assume it is planted (residential yard); marking “Organism is Wild” = No” which is a small pain, just slows down reviewing process
But many times I cannot add a useful ID, and I’m torn between skipping over the observation to leave it in the Needs ID stage, or hitting the “Captive/Cultivated” button which means in most cases the obs will never get an ID.

What is a good approach that find a balance between 1) using my time 2) iNat objectives 3) encouraging newer users


I always mark them as not wild if I’m confident they aren’t wild. The etiquette is that the person adding it should tag it as such, but of course new users won’t know that.

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Thanks charlie. Yes I’m only thinking of cases where it is clearly obviously not wild (plants in pots or clearly in gardens/greenhouse and/or far outside wild range - or both When it’s not so obvious and is within range of wild / established populations then I’m more likely to assume wild.


Yeah, in those cases it’s appropriate to mark as non wild. It’s not mandatory for the identifier to do so but it’s easy in the identity page with a hotkey (z?)

I have added a few observations of plants that are in my garden but are wild flowers/weeds and not cultivated. Is that wrong?

That’s perfectly good use of iNat.

It’s also fine to upload cultivated plants, but best practice is to mark them as cultivated before uploading.

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That’s totally fine! Although if it’s in a spot that looks cultivated (an obvious garden bed, flower pot, etc) it’s often good to add a comment in the description that it’s not planted. Just to avoid people automatically marking it as tame.


I think that is a really good set of questions to be asking, because they are indeed hard to balance. Taking them in reverse:

3 - It is encouraging, at least, that new users are experimenting and testing largely with non-human living things, and not selfies, friends, or rocks. It shows some level of awareness of the objectives of iNaturalist at the outset. There are exceptions, of course, but at least they are exceptions and not the rule.

2 - Though I am definitely a wild and native plant person, the treatment of cultivated/captive species on iNaturalist has always seemed to me somewhat at odds with the objective of “connecting people with nature,” given that such species are often the first, and sometimes the only, representatives of nature at hand for (3 - ) a significant segment of new users who, arguably, would be among the more highly desirable users to encourage, educate, and bring into the iNaturalist community.

1 - Personally, when I come across an observation that is likely cultivated/captive, and still in “Needs ID” status, I will leave it alone unless I can add an ID. If my ID tips it into Research Grade status (or if it is already there), and I am certain it is captive/cultivated (that individual was put there by a human), I will then mark it as captive/cultivated. Otherwise it gets benefit of the doubt, and I will leave it as Needs ID. After all, until there is agreement on an ID, there is room for doubt, unless the setting of the photo is visible and makes it unambiguous (potted plant, etc.).

Personally I would like to see captive/cultivated status de-coupled from Needs ID status, with both independently filterable. If and when that happens, then I will happily join the “captive/cultivated police” on iNaturalist.


If I’m not in a rush, I have some text I copy and paste, explaining why things like garden plants need to be taged as cultivated, and how. If I’m just lazy/rushed/etc, I put ‘marking as cultivated’ so that the person knows. That way, if I marked something as cultivated in error, they can let me know.

In cases where I can’t tell, I ask. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t seem to get my question or don’t know how to reply back, so if I somehow come back to it and have gotten no answer after several months, I mark it cultivated.

I figure gardens are the first place people really engage with nature, and sometimes, people aren’t aware of what’s wild and what isn’t. Plus, there’s always that mysterious plant that no one around you seems to know what it is.