Some wild species have cultivars that go by the same name. Take for instance Portulaca umbraticola which is a native plant of North and South America and its cultivars like “Wildfire Mix” or Euphorbia graminea which is a wild plant that is spreading through cultivated plants and its cultivars like “Diamond Ice”. The cultivars are readily distinguishable from their wild counterparts, but iNaturalist is not great at distinguishing them. One could theoretically create a cultivar name for every cultivar that comes out, but this is limited by: (1) new cultivars coming out continuously and (2) requiring an identification to cultivar which can be difficult.
In the case of Portulaca umbraticola, in particular, many of the observations cannot be verified to be cultivated. This has distorted the map to such an extent that it is difficult to tell what the wild range of the organism actually is or even the observations of the wild organisms themselves.
- Adding new annotations or data quality fields to indicate the organism itself is of cultivated origin.
- Adding a general “cultivars” taxon always labeled “cultivars” (e.g., Portulaca umbraticola cultivars) as a bin to add all the cultivated taxa to that could have individual cultivars added under it if desireable.
- Decide to mark these as cultivated regardless of whether it spread without the help of people (I personally don’t like this option at all).
I strongly prefer number 2 as I think it is more consistent and useful to put it in as part of the taxonomic framework, though it would have to act or be treated differently from the way we usually use taxa. Instead of specifying what taxon it is, it would just be labeled “cultivars”. I suppose we could do the same thing now using the subspecies or hybrid taxa, but I don’t really like that option as I still don’t think it treats the cultivated organisms sufficiently differently and seems difficult to standardize.
Added 25 Nov 2019:
If a cultivar taxon were created for every species that possessed them, excluding them from searches would be as easy as typing in “&without_taxon_id=” into the URL. Perhaps the developers could even add an option to exclude escaped cultivars by checking a box.