What does "No Evidence of Flowering" mean?

Thank you. I’ve apparently been there & liked one of your replies already, but I didn’t remember it.
Time to re-read it and hope it sticks this time.


This annotation definitely raises questions!.)


I thought it would be very simple, but I too fret over last year’s fruit, spikelets, etc. The plant isn’t currently flowering/fruiting, but there is clear evidence that it did. And sometimes, last year’s fruit still have seeds (always in Carex obnupta, sometimes in others). I’ve been marking them fruiting and hoping people working on phenology will figure out that the species can’t have fruited yet for this year. But I may be doing it wrong.


oooh I’ve been doing this wrong and marking flowering if flowers present and no evidence of flowering if no flowers present but fruiting if fruits present. Is there a url hack to get the obs I marked as ‘no evidence of flowering’?

The easiest way to get at many of them is to think about what sets you have typically been annotating- one’s you’ve id’ed, or say all the records in your region? If the first case, filter a search in the Identify modal for just Reviewed, and filter for the annotation type you want to look back through. Then, add the filter for “Date Updated” Descending, and that will bring you back through the ones you are likeliest to have touched recently.

(Yeah I know this because I have had to fix my own mistakes heh.)

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Like @lotteryd said, go to identify & check reviewed.

I then added &term_id=12&term_value_id=21 to the end of the URL, as per the search wiki:

Seems to work, though I’m not 100% sure because I don’t use that annotation much (so I don’t know if it’s missing anything).

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I would choose not to annotate any of those examples with a plant phenology annotation. I think the intent of “no evidence of flowering” was to accommodate vegetative/juvenile-stage plants (although that prompts question, why the odd phrasing?). Why this is even a “phenology” annotation, I cannot say. Might have more to do with some humans’ psychological desire to completely check boxes than plants’ life histories.

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BTW annotation does not mark the obs as reviewed, so if you are just blasting through a whole set without id’ing them, the Reviewed filter would not be a good method to pull them back up.

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Good point. Probably explains why I had so few results…not only do I rarely use this annotation, but I wasn’t accounting for cases where I’d only annotated it without IDing or reviewing.

Thankfully, I was only working in one species so it ended up being not that bad to go fix them

I do the same! I don’t think there is a “wrong” - there are just different perspectives. But I know from a lay-person’s standpoint, when I want to learn ID and I need examples with fruits, the dried out husk can be just as valuable a characteristic to filter for as one actively seeding. But I guess it would pose a problem from a research standpoint - I hope they have a method to correct for it.

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there are a lot of reasons why it’s helpful to be able to mark a plant as not reproductive. I agree the wording is a little odd


I suppose you could add a value called “Post-fruiting” or something like that. Similarly, you could add a value called “Post-flowering” to handle that gray area between flowering and fruiting. In that case, you would have the following sequence of values:

  1. Vegetative only
  2. Flower budding
  3. Flowering
  4. Post-flowering
  5. Fruiting
  6. Post-fruiting

That’s a more comprehensive categorization at the expense of additional complexity.



The Phenology Handbook A guide to phenological monitoring for students, teachers, families, and nature enthusiasts

the generalized plant phenological sequence can be summarized as follows:

leaf budburst•
first full leaf (first leaf is fully expanded)•
entire plant leaf-out (all leaves on the plant are expanded)•
first flower•
peak flowering (largest floral display)•
last flower•
fruit maturity and seed dispersal•
leaf senescence (color change and abcission — the process of losing leaves at the end of the • growing season


so does that mean a plant that is not an angiosperm

No, the annotation is only shown on flowering plants (angiosperms). It refers to what’s depicted in the observation.


Thank you, and this may help further explain it:


tiwane commented on Apr 10

Users have asked for a No evidence of flowering value for Plant Phenology annotations, which will help phenology annotators / data users differentiate between observations which show no evidence of flowering and observations which haven’t been annotated.

No evidence of flowering should be defined as “Media provides no evidence of reproductive structures.” and will only be applied to observations of Subphylum Angiospermae.


I use the “No Evidence of Flowering” value a lot, thanks for adding that, but 10–20% of observations still can not be annotated for lack of an appropriate annotation value. This time of year, for example, many plants are post-fruiting and therefore can not be annotated (at least the way I understand it).

There are many different ways to fix this but here’s one approach:

  1. No evidence of flowering
  2. Flower budding
  3. Flowering
  4. Fruiting
  5. Other evidence of flowering

Item 1 is mutually exclusive with items 2 thru 5. Likewise item 5 is mutually exclusive with items 1 thru 4. If any of items 2 thru 4 are applied to an observation, items 1 and 5 drop off the list. This is a straightforward extension of what we have today.

The way I understand it is that based on the evidence in the observation, if you cannot mark it as 'Flowering", “Fruiting” or “Flower budding”, then it would be marked “No evidence of flowering”.

A fruit is evidence that it did flower. Perhaps it would be clearer to say “No evidence of flowering or fruiting”.
Unless/until more phenological events are added, these 4 are the choices available.
Some people mark more than one. At first I was doing this also.
After investigating this, most sources state that once flowers start to open it is considered in the flowering stage, even though there are still flower buds. Likewise, once the ovary is fertilized, it is considered in the fruiting stage, even though there may still be flowers and flower buds present.

I think this has been discussed before but in any case that’s not my understanding. For example, a plant that is past the fruiting stage is neither “Flowering”, “Fruiting”, nor “Flower budding”, but neither is it “No evidence of flowering”. So the four categories are not exhaustive. There are some observations that can not be annotated. At least one more annotation value is needed.

Those are as good as (or maybe even better than) any other definitions I’ve heard but unfortunately iNat has no policy with respect to these annotation values (or at least didn’t the last time I checked). So they can mean anything you (the annotator) want them to mean.