What does "No Evidence of Flowering" mean?

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

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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.

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https://ndep.nv.gov/uploads/land-tribe-docs/Phenology_Handbook_2nd_ed_Abridged.pdf

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

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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.

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Thank you, and this may help further explain it:

https://github.com/inaturalist/inaturalist/issues/2638

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.

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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.