Train the vision model on cultivated plants


Perhaps the most important improvement from the perspective of encouraging teachers to use Seek with students (who will likely use iNaturalist for only a single term) would be to train the database on captive/cultivated plants. I know that almost all of my students photographed only captive/cultivated plants. I then helped with identification. I could not use Seek because Seek could not identify the captive/cultivated plants that inhabit campus. A Seek trained on captives would help instructors like me use Seek with my students. Perhaps some ability to display suggestions instead of just “cannot identify” which is what I encountered here. And a vote from here on geographically informed suggestions so my students do not identify a plant here on Pohnpei, Micronesia as one found only in northern Texas and southern Oklahoma (that was the top suggestion).

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iNaturalist 2019 Team Retreat Follow-Up

Do you have some example species? How many observations of those species are on iNat?



This is a commonly cultivated/captive plant here on island and a prime target on campus. Seek cannot identify, but I can guide my students in iNaturalist to the correct identification. Thus as a teaching tool, Seek has limits for a teacher when it cannot ID a plant. I think this connects to iNaturalist being aimed at wild organisms and being “misused” by those such as myself as a teaching tool with students, students who tend to photograph many captive/cultivated plants and who use the app for only one term. Still, iNaturalist trumps other free apps such as PlantNet which lack all capability to be used by an instructor ( As I read through the forum I see many posts that suggest a “tension” between iNaturalist being a “big tent” for all users including those who photograph captive/cultivated organisms or an app focused more exclusively on wild organisms. I gather the founding mission was wild organism, but the userbase now includes a lot of users photographing/identifying captive/cultivated plants.


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The category of "cultivated" is problematic for plants in urban landscapes

The Seek screenshot did not upload with that post:



Thanks. I’ve split this off into its own topic.

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Another example (at least on iNat, not sure about Seek) is cultivate pines. For instance… in Southern California coastal areas, the most common pines are Alleppo, Canary Island, and Monterey, all planted. Other than the small patch of Torrey Pines near San Diego there are no native pines in the urban areas of southern California. However the algorithm continually identifies things as montane species such as Ponderosa and Jeffrey pine. Unfortunately the proximity thing won’t help either without elevation considered because those species do occur within 100 miles,but it’s just that they are only above ~4000 feet. Though the problem is somewhat perplexing because sometime the algorithm does ID them properly and the correct id is rejected for another wrong ID further down the list. So maybe it’s user error.

Other than that, overall i find the algorithm works pretty well for cultivated plants, at least on the US east coast.

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