Typically IDed wrong

I’ve been looking through the CV spiders. Some are not spiders, and my best find so far was a spider plant. (If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s this one: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/322492-Chlorophytum-comosum)

There are many perfectly identifiable spiders there which are casual because of missing dates of observation. That is a shame, because there are some interesting ones which have sat unidentified for a long time.

One trend I have noticed is that some people seem to think that if a spider is in a house, or in a garden, then it is not “wild”. I’ve found quite a few Casual spiders that the observer had marked as “not wild”, which have then sadly never been identified. Hopefully now I’ve voted them wild, some may be identified.


part of that identify gap between Unknowns and taxon specialists. Which I can’t face tackling, even if I limit it to Cape Peninsula. There is a lot of work to do hidden in ‘it has some sort of ID so it’s done’

Sometimes, it´s really hard work:

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That is reassuring. I rarely feel sure enough to ID mallards, because i don’t know hybrids well, and wondered if I was just chicken. Guess not! Thanks!

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Hear hear!

Even with what I said, most Mallards identified accurately. I would recommend first learning what a Mallard specifically looks like and use caution when a duck drifts far from that general appearance. This guide from the Cornell Lab will help with the basics. The ID tap is especially useful in this area.

All About Birds - Mallard

Spilanthes (aster) and Phyla (verbenac). I can understand people might be confused from afar (both are small, appresed weeds of wet areas), but from up close the leaves (entire vs deeply toothed) and the “flowers” (with large rays in Phyla vs. no rays in Spilanthes) are hard to mistake for. I can’t count how many Spilanthes leiocarpa I’ve had to correct in the last year, at least here in Peru, as they were taken for Phylas.

Also Heliotropiums - angiospermum, indicum and rufipilum - the commonest species in the Neotropics, which the CV sometimes has a hard time telling apart.

Same here! Now to add another layer to this; certain Sonchus can be pinkish when the flower heads haven’t opened yet - which makes it even harder to tell apart from a distance!

The most commonly misidentified vertebrates that I encounter are the two species in the Gray Treefrog Complex - Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) and Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis). The problem is that the two species cannot be identified from a photo, so observers that are not experienced with this taxa will put one or the other name on there, usually H. versicolor (because it is a gray treefrog, I guess). Often you can make an educated guess based on geography, but in many parts of the range both species occur, so the only accurate ID from a photo is to the complex. The species can be ID’d from a call however, and those are usually distinctly one or the other. So one can also make an educated guess from a photo based on which species is known in the vicinity from calls.


Yah, ok. Species that cannot be IDed are different… in spiders there are many of those. But then ID is also not easy for myself :laughing:

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I can definitely relate to this, same with many other complexes (Plethodon glutinosus is the first that comes to mind).

These two, also misidentified by me:

Before flowering, the leaves are nearly identical, with subtle differences:

  • The Cotula is more decumbrent with the Lepidium more prostrate
  • The Cotula may have some hairs on the stem with the Lepidium more glabbrous
  • The Cotula has an annual, clump-of-hairs root with the Lepidium having a taproot

It also doesn’t help that they sprout and grow during the same season.

The most reliable way to tell them apart is to crush the leaves. The Cotula has no smell but the Lepidium has a strong wasabi/garlic smell.


There are documented cases of foxglove poisoning that occurred because the person mistook it for comfrey. The earliest foxglove leaves of the season do look almost exactly like comfrey leaves.


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