What incentive is there for users to mark their observations as captive / cultivated?

Escaped garden plants are wild. There are clear cases and there are gray areas, but one of the values of iNat is to track escaping plants, so absolutely mark them wild.

There are previous discussions about the borderline cases, such as reseeding garden plants or garden plants expanding vegetatively. I believe the line is drawn when such propagation expands beyond the garden where it was planted. But the vast majority of naturalized plants such as the invasive or introduced species you mentioned should be marked as wild.

EDIT: One thread to review on this is: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/wild-vs-captive-cultivated-gray-areas/39882


See iNat’s official description and examples for captive/cultivated here: What does captive / cultivated mean?

And as @gordonh says, there are also a number of past threads on the forum discussing fringe cases.


Thanks for clarifying. As an obviously newer member I want to make sure I uphold the standards put forth by the people that came before me.


I am seriously considering switching from a previous observation system popular in my country to iNaturalist.
People there are too dogmatic around the “wild/planted” discussion. It almost seems like a religion.
I want to enter observations in the context of H. Halys (brown-marbled shieldbug). An exotic, invasive species. Especially its relationship with its host plants fascinates me.
Bad luck for me.
The host plants are largely ornamental plants in urban parks, gardens. Mainly in urban areas.
Just the kind of plants that the “our nature” people as I call them, hate.
Even when I clearly state in the observation in which context the observation can be placed, they refuse validation.
If an invasive pest suddenly appears, it can be very useful to have a better understanding of urban ecology. Which exotic ornamental plants no longer plant in gardens and parks. Which native, do plant.

In short, any information is valuable. Even if you can’t see it today.
I can only hope that iNatuarlist validation is not as extremely dogmatic as it is now here in Belgium.
The “wild/planted” distinction invites dogmatism.

A more objective distinction might be:

  • 1 good photo => +1 quality point
  • several good photos => +1 quality point
  • use observation fields => +1
  • use of annotations => +1
  • “wild/planted” => +1
    Calculated by the system, of course.
    This way, one person need not exclude another based on dubious criteria.

It seems like almost everyone who visits the Jardin Botanico in Santo Domingo feels obligated to upload the same (cultivated) waterlilies.

That could be an entire debate in itself, especially to those of us who have read McKibben’s The End of Nature (is anything really wild anymore?). But every non-wild organism had origins in wild nature, which influences its present form. There are reasons for the behaviors and morphology of domesticated pigeons as contrasted with those of domesticated turkeys, and those reasons are rooted in nature, even if both creatures are now under human selection. Was Darwin’s pigeon breeding to understand inheritance in relation to selection not a genuine interest in nature?


It is a chore. Please destigmatize it for the users who are less adept at using iNat.


Since making this post I managed to get the person I had previously mentioned on this post mark their cultivated plant posts. It took them a long time however as apparently there isn’t a quick way to do this on the app? I’m not an app user so I’m just relaying what they said to me.

I also located another user. I’ve tried to get this user to mark their cultivated observations but they never do. A majority of their observations are cultivated plants photographed in display gardens. I’d estimate easily over 50% of their observations are cultivated plants, which have been uploaded as wild observations. Some have even obtained research grade status. I tried commenting on their posts previously to teach them how to mark their observations are captive / cultivated, but no progress has been made as they didn’t respond. Is there a way to try and get through to them or are they a lost cause destined to be terminated?

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Many of the things I plant are locally native species that are part of a native restoration I’m doing on land that I own. It saddens me that these plantings are observable but go un id’d. To answer your quote… YES, sometimes an interest in non-wild organisms is a genuine interest in nature.

The distinction between cultivated and wild seems increasingly silly to me. Eventually, the transition to the anthropocene will mean FULL acceptance of cultivated native plants or there will be fewer wild organisms supported by them.


Why would you assume that an interest in non-wild plants must have nothing to do with nature?

If I have a community of insects in my backyard, is it not relevant what plants they are on?

If an invasive species has escaped cultivation, is it not relevant when and where it was cultivated?


I “can’t be bothered” to find a mention because I identify a lot of things, and iNaturalist follows every single one of them. If you know of a way to filter notifications for just mentions, or a setting that makes iNat not follow everything, then please by all means let me know. I honestly have no idea how other people keep up with their mentions.

Maybe they will notice and remember, people can think I’m annoying if they want to. The point is useful usable data, and this seems to be the method most likely to get that.

Also no, I didn’t see where you disagreed with me. I’m not sure what relevance that has to this thread?

and notifications will sometimes be - please reconsider, because a taxon specialist has explained why this is or isn’t …
Never mind.

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The other thing that is being lost by ignoring cultivated observations is the potential for future scientists to understand the provenance of restored native plant communities. If a large colony of trillium flexipes is found growing in an urban woodland 100 years from now, it might be interesting to know that restorationists 100 years prior re-established trillium flexipes in that same area during a woodland restoration. If we don’t track cultivated native plants, we won’t know the degree to which assisted regeneration worked. Future scientists will think natural regeneration was more powerful than it actually was.


In order for iNat to reach its full potential, protected areas will need to get over their aversion to “collection”. This doesn’t mean I’m an advocate for willy nilly collecting. It means that it’s in everyone’s interest to have “collections” of genotypes offered within the private market whose provenance is PUBLIC and traces back to the few remaining precious and carefully guarded wild places. Most of these few remaining wild places are parks and preserves… the stewards of which should be increasingly open to collection because of the newly offered ability to track provenance using iNat and “big data”.

When I go to native plant sales, I always ask where the genetics of the plants being sold are from. Close to 100% of the time I get a vague answer. Something like… oh they are from this local area. Ok, well where exactly? Can I link to an observation of the parent colony when I make an observation of the cultivated one? Because that’s what I want to do. Not that it matters if all of the newly established child colonies are hidden from the future historical record.


and notifications will sometimes be - please reconsider, because a taxon specialist has explained why this is or isn’t …
Never mind.

If it’s so important, then tell me how you do it. How do you keep track of your notifications when you ID zillions of things and iNat follows them all?

Edit: Removed some stuff because I read your comment as way more aggressive than it was probably intended and got kind of snippy, I’m sorry.

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3rd party interface by pisum is one way used currently

I stuck with a homebrew way that works with my game controller, but I can also go over to pisum’s if I accidentally click wrong with my way. It’s great backup. You can go back to originally-missed notifications by changing its display filters.


Thank you, I will see how this works Edit: this is fantastic, thank you so much for sharing it with me!


In my first year here, I didn’t realise that notifications weren’t ‘FB Likes’
That there were questions that needed answers and responses. iNat is a learning curve. Now I work thru each notification.
And I hope that after waiting four years already, iNat will, one day give us a way to manage notifications. It is a mission to keep up if you choose to ID a lot.


I simply scroll through all of them. If the observation got to Research Grade, I usually don’t look at it – whatever I did didn’t get the in the way too badly. I try to look at all the ones that still aren’t RG because I may learn something or need to change an ID or something. Yes, it takes a long time. (And at the moment I haven’t done it for 3 days and close to 400 have piled up, not including observations from people I follow. Not sure when I’ll catch up.)


But scientists can only know that a now-wild population descended from cultivated plants rather than existing wild populations if the original cultivated plants are recorded as such. On iNat, this means that users need to be marking plants that are known to have been planted as “not wild”.


I’ve been having internet issues the last few days, so I wasn’t able to look at my notifications more than once a day, if that. I was rather horrified to see that one day I had over 500 notifications and over 300 another day. Now, most of those were because a couple of identifiers were going through just a few species and clicking agree on RG observations, so I could easily skip those notifications, but still, it was more notifications overall than I can easily deal with.