When is a plant no longer considered "cultivated?"

I prefer to look at each case on its own and avoid generalizing to keep my eyes and thinking sharp. I often pull wild seedlings or saplings out of places I don’t want them and pot them up. Often easier to photograph in a pot in a controlled environment (like taking an insect in hand). I note this in relevant observations. My locations are accurate. I also photograph seedlings I didn’t plant that have ended up in pots (I think someone else already said this). My rule is to read and research to the best of my ability on a case by case basis taking into account both indisputable facts when available and the inherent subjectivity of this designation and understanding some need for acceptance that there will be disagreement from time to time.

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And then there’s scenarios like my parents’ house: they built their house between the existing live oaks. I personally consider those cultivated, even though they started as wild (like an animal collected from the wild), but from the responses here I think I am in the minority.

My reasoning is that by virtue of being “adopted” into the area designated as a lawn, they are watered when their wild counterparts are subjected to drought. They don’t have to compete with other plants as much as the wild ones because the lawn gets weeded. The wild ones less than a yard away on the other side of the fence have to deal with rot or other issues, while the ones in my parents’ yard get their dead limbs trimmed (for their own health or human safety).

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In the city there’re wild offsprings of species like Acer negundo, they’re getting trimmed too because of getting too much space, but it hardly affects their status. Weeds in the garden also are getting more advances because of getting watered regulary. So if trees were adults when the house was build it’s safe to call them wild, but if they were young your point of view works perfetly, that’s how they grew - cultivated.

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This topic, like the plants under consideration, is also perennial.

For the absolutists among us (believe it or not, there are a few!), it is healthy to remember that these words- cultivated, wild, native, invasive, endemic, introduced- are charged with meaning on what we think the world should look like. As a category, our wild/cultivated designation is not at all clearly defined, and represents a variety of possible interpretations with dubious scientific value. I tend to agree with @mertensia’s decision tree on plants, but there are so many other possible situations that are debatable and show the colors of the debaters.

For this reason, I dislike the wild/cultivated “flag” and would rather show it as an annotation with more specific definition, so that the designation doesn’t affect the observation.

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In some cases someone might find a rare native plant for a region and move it into their garden, and don’t post their find online. Such a plant would never make it into a plant checklist because no one would suspect it was a moved native, and potted plants are generally ignored as observations.

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As well, wild seeds can spring up in pots left outside of previous years discards and demises.

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One somewhat similar example that I’ve mentioned before on the Google groups forum was coming across a pot in an alley with Japanese mazus growing in the center of it. Further down the alley was a pot with onions growing in the center and a couple of Japanese mazus plants sprouting near the edge of the pot. Walk a little further and it’s possible to find Japanese mazus growing from a crack in the asphalt. A bit past that and you come across a stream that has some Japanese mazus growing by a set of stepping stones.

The first one is cultivated, the third and fourth would count as wild, and I’m sure opinions vary a bit on the second.

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That’s why I didn’t use 100%.

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By that argument, every time I hold an insect in a jar, or collect it as a specimen it has become captive. I disagree that is the spirit of the designation. That would also mean pulling a specimen to photograph the entire plant including root system meant that it was somehow cultivated once it left the ground? If I put it in a box, cup, my hand, etc. to hold and document is that somehow fundamentally different from a pot? I think that would be a case of an identifier reading intent into the symbol of a pot and its projected permanence/ possible future cultivation intentions of a human being and if that identifier fully looks at the observation and makes sure to see the notes of the observer then there is no reason not to believe the observer is being truthful. Many would also make the case that there is more value in having the record of the plant which would often outweigh concerns about how many minutes, days, weeks, etc. a plant found wild with accurate data has been in whatever container of choice. For those reasons, I wholeheartedly disagree and choose not to use words like, “rule” to avoid such confusion regardless of percentages of confidence or other modifiers. I think that helps me become more empirical and methodical (one could say scientific) in my approach to studying nature and evaluating the observations of others.

EDIT (an example): There’s also a difference between something that has a very limited chance for survival versus something that is common or abundant. In my case, I often pull red maples, 4 different oaks, red and white cedar, pines, cottonwood,and tons of other native common things I know will need to be removed from where they self-propagated, all within sight distance of a “wild” parent. It seems both counter-productive and counter-intuitive to say that because I pulled it up and kept it perky for a few minutes by providing a container to get my camera out it’s now no longer wild as I stand above the hole it was in three minutes ago where it arrived with zero intervention from me. Not talking about six months later when I’ve kept it inside and fertilized it. However, the case could be made that with proper description and accurate date and location this could be tolerated in cases where the data point would not really impact the set.

But as the plant grows it changes and definitely not in the way it would in the wild, it is cultivated, for that cases I see people linking observations together, first on is wild, others are not.

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Not disagreeing.

Did anyone put the mazus in the pot, or did it find its way there? If the latter, it’s a wild plant. Just because a seed has found its way into some soil without the help of a human doesn’t make it cultivated.

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Thanks for agreeing! The only thing I would disagree with is the “perennial” distinction. Plenty of annuals to deal with here. Lobelia erinus, Petunias etc. :)

https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/request-for-better-description-of-cultivated-captive/2871

https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/the-category-of-cultivated-is-problematic-for-plants-in-urban-landscapes/2317

https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/disappointing-consistent-failure-users-not-marking-observations-as-cultivated/8791

https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/dot-roadside-plantings-wild-or-cultivated/4686

https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/add-pop-up-to-ask-observer-if-captive-cultivated-for-certain-species-in-that-area/7259

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I would consider two category of wild species: the native and the naturalized. If a plant is a not a native but survived and reproduced for at least a generation, I would consider it wild unless it is in a managed lanscape. It can be quite ambiguous on abandonned farmland but even then, if it’s aligned in neat hedgerows or close to older buildings, it would be a good clue it’s not wild.

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Yes, someone did. ^^

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I am new here and have been reading as much as I can about this. I scattered pawpaw fruits and seeds in my side yard, which are growing and which I have tagged as cultivated in my observations. But I also have some coming up in places I didn’t scatter them; my back yard and in a hole in the cement. I have a small city lot, and those are obvoiusly from the same seeds or fruits, but they are not where I put them. Are those still cultivated or are they wild?

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Wild.

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Welcome to the forum!

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It is no longer just cultivated when it produces an offspring, both sexually or asexually, in a wild habitat* (outside a private garden).
Another possibility is when you find a species that is commonly cultivated where it could be growing due to natural processes. Example 1: some ornamental trees that are more or less all of the same age and growing in line then it is obvious that they have been planted and thus they are cultivated. Example 2: one individual of the same ornamental species in the middle of a wood and there are no clues that someone could have planted it there, then you can consider it at least as potentially wild. This last case could require you to ask the point of view of someone who is an expert of alien plant species and/or has a good knowledge of the area.

*: also a city is a wild habitat

Regarding the plants you have written about it could be interesting if you could post some of the relative threads

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