How to help identify ILBBY observations

Short version: Log into iNaturalist and go here! Click one of the photos to view more details and add or confirm an identification.

Long version: No observation makes it into the Illinois Botanists Big Year (ILBBY) or gets passed on to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) without at least two identifications. Making IDs is a great way to learn, see the diversity of species found in an area, contribute to science, and get to know other naturalists out there observing.

The Identify page on the iNaturalist website makes IDing really streamlined, especially once you start using the keyboard shortcuts. You can access the Identify page from the website by clicking the Identify link in the main header. Then click any image to view it in the "pop-up" modal in order to view the photos larger, add an ID, or see other details. There is unfortunately no similar quick and easy way right now to add identifications from the apps, so it's recommended to use a laptop or desktop computer.

Check out this useful video tutorial for using the Identify page on the iNaturalist website:

Here is a URL filtered to identify plants in Illinois observed in 2019: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?iconic_taxa=Plantae%2Cunknown&order_by=random&place_id=35&year=2019 I recommend bookmarking it so that it's easy to access. You can use the filters on the Identify page to show exactly the type of observations you're interested in.

Even a broad identification can be really helpful. So if you know it's in the aster family (Asteraceae), but not which species exactly, you can add an ID at family level. That way people looking to help ID observations in that family can find it easier.

Have questions about making identifications on iNaturalist? This Identification Etiquette post answers a lot of common questions. You can also ask below or start a new topic on the iNaturalist Forum.

Posted by bouteloua bouteloua, October 13, 2019 23:39

Comments

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Any suggestions for easy beginner plants to identify? I guess what seems to make a "good" beginner plant for me is that they are 1)pretty common so there are likely to be a lot of them to identify and I am likely to see them in person 2) don't have look-a-likes in Illinois, or have something that clearly distinguishes them from a look-a-like 3) have one or two easy to find and understand characteristics that can confirm what they are. For example I have found that there are only a few Silphium species in Illinois and they are pretty easy to distinguish with a good leaf shot. Trillium also have a few key characteristics that allow the common Illinois species to be identified if the shot contains those characteristics. However, there are a million Solidago in Illinois and umpteen ways that might distinguish them, making it hard for someone who is new to them. I tried ferns because I love them, but I needed a dictionary just to read the keys and then to try and figure out if in this picture the sori is up, down, around, or inside out seems impossible. Thanks!

Posted by k2018lena about 2 months ago (Flag)
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Yes! Here are a few:

-Acer negundo, boxelder (new green growth and opposite buds makes it distinctive)
-Acer saccharinum, silver maple (pretty easy bark, distinctive leaves)
-Ageratina altissima, white snakeroot (there are a few similar species in Eupatorium, but once you get an eye for it you can get a lot done because it's such a common species, tons of observations)
-Arisaema triphyllum and A. dracontium (difficult in fruit, but easy when there are leaves)
-Baptisia alba and B. bracteata (B. australis is usually in plantings and B. tinctoria is very rare)
-Campanulastrum americanum (only one in the genus)
-Celtis occidentalis, hackberry (easy bark!)
-Claytonia virginica, springbeauties (only species in that genus in our state)
-Dalea purpurea and Dalea candida (purple vs. white flowers, narrower vs. broader leaflets)
-Geranium maculatum (just a few other less common Geranium species to learn)
-Glechoma hederacea, creeping charlie (distinctive leaves, very common)
-Monarda fistulosa, bergamot
-Pedicularis canadensis and Pedicularis lanceolata
-Podophyllum peltatum, mayapple (one of a kind)
-Pontederia cordata, pickerelweed
-Primula meadia, shootingstar (only species in that genus in most of the state)
-Ratibida pinnata, grey-headed coneflower
-Rhamnus cathartica, buckthorn
-Sanguinaria canadensis, bloodroot (very distinctive)
-Sporobolus heterolepis, dropseed (densely tufted with very narrow leaves, nothing else like it in our natural areas)
-Symplocarpus foetidus, skunk cabbage

My favorite place to view at a glance if there are other similar species in the area is BONAP, e.g. http://bonap.net/NAPA/TaxonMaps/Genus/County/Monarda

For finding lookalikes/common mistakes the Similar Species tab on the taxon pages is becoming super useful: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/119048-Ageratina-altissima

Definitely avoid Solidago! The "hard" species are one reason why I prefer to sort the Identify page by "random" instead of the default which is last uploaded, because the newest ones get "picked over" pretty quickly.

Posted by bouteloua about 2 months ago (Flag)

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