Value of public Garden adding cultivated species

I represent a public garden and am new to iNaturalist. I am trying to understand the value of adding our cultivated plants (meaning ones we planted) and wild plants (those plants that were here when we got here and are either native or naturalized). I will label things cultivated. But what I want to know is if adding large numbers of cultivated plants to iNaturalist is counter the mission of the place?

We are a public garden with a large wooded area so in addition to the cultivated plants, I hope to be able to add trees when the wooded area has a tree survey. I will also spend time adding wild plants that are outside of the gardened areas.

Thank you.

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hello, and welcome! we’re glad to have you here.

The primary purpose of iNat is to help connect people with the natural world. if uploading data on your cultivated plants will help you, or others, be curious and engaged with your surroundings, please share your observations :)

there are many discussions on the forum regarding how iNat and its community relate to cultivated observations. in short, iNat is more directed towards observations of wild/ naturally occurring life, but is by no means exclusively interested in it.

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I think it is definitely interesting/useful to iNat users making observations of pollinators.

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Here’s my take: What’s cultivated in your neighborhood is often wild in someone else’s. As long as they’re marked cultivated, I think it’s a good thing.

But definitely add what’s in your woodlands. You might even get early warning of colonization by invasive non-natives. Having documentation of the problem helped get funding to control them in Austin, TX.

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I already made an inventory of a small botanical garden with iNat. You might be aware that iNat is kind of hiding observations of captive and cultivated organisms. In order to make these observations visible, in a way that staff and visitors can find them and interact with them, it seems to be a good idea, to collect all your garden observations in a project. That is the one I made:
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/plants-au-jardin-botanique-des-cayes

Well some people (even within iNat) think that observations of captive-cultivated organisms lack scientific value. I dont share this opinion, as it is obvious that data on captive-cultivated organisms is needed in many areas of research. This stretches from agriculture to ethnobiology and certainly also in conservation biology.

It has already been said, that the primary purpose of iNat is to connect people with the natural world. And an iNat documentation of a garden can certainly become a tool that deepens this experience, for visitors and staff alike.

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Also there is a direct correlation between the plants in the garden and the animals that occur there. If you ever do an insect survey the presence of some species may make no sense if you compare it to a list with only the wild plants, but make perfect sense when you realize large numbers of their host plant have been planted.

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A garden provides an opportunity to gather quality ID photos. This will be useful later to those who are trying to ID wild specimens for whom good comparison pictures will be super helpful.

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It can also be useful to link observations of cultivated plants that are hosts to wild fungi/lichens, mosses, insects, etc. I commonly observe a tree along with each lichen species living on it.

@untermyergardensconservan I’ve led several lichen walks for the Connecticut–Westchester Mycological Association at your garden and would be happy to help you observe and identify your lichen flora for iNat.

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That would be wonderful - I think I met you briefly on one of those walks! I was working and wished I could have joined your group.
Jessica

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One of my current goals is to get good photos showing leaf/flower/unique attributes, so I’m glad to hear that it will help make it useful for the iNaturalist community.

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Like those two Aristolochia tomentosa? ;)

I’m always interested in cultivated plants from botanical gardens since usually are good specimen and hopefully good pictures too. Needless to say with a reliable id too. Still remember getting lost in awe of the botanical garden in Melbourne. I’d love to see their specimen linked to some account in iNat for instance.
I also wonder if there is any list of official accounts linked to parks or bot. gardens anywhere maintained by pros?

I don’t think the species pages show photos of those marked captive, but I could be wrong.

I’m glad to see a lot of positive views if the values of cultivated species on this thread. Ones started by “So and so is clogging up my feed with cultivated plants” tend to attract the negative side. I have long argued the value of giving cultivated plants the same attributes of value as wild. All observations should be able to achieve “research grade”, just with the tag of “wild” or “cultivated” so people can filter by preference!

Good luck with your project!

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Well documented cultivated plants could be useful as model for identification of individuals of the same species that could be found as harden escapee.
Additionally, if they are known as highly invasive aliens and their place of cultivation if close to the coutryside, there could be the necessity to map them as they could easily escape.

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I think you can change your settings to include cultivated records returned in searches. So for those who are wont to do, the info will be there for them to dig up. If you have a wild specimen of a subject you think might also be a cultivar somewhere in the world some good clear pics of a garden specimen will be a helpful tool.

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There’s definitely some value to helping train the AI software with cultivated species that are often easier to approach and photograph. I also represent an arboretum/garden but we have captive birds so you can get much closer, full-frame photos that only the longest and most expensive lenses would be able to capture in the wild. As long as you use the captive/cultivated flag, I’d say you’re actually helping the platform overall.

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