Mints of the Continental US and Canada's Journal

May 04, 2022

Standardized Method of Photographing Mints

I was recently asked by @carexobnupta to describe my method of photographing mints, and I had fun picking out some examples. Maybe it's helpful to post it here too to give observers an idea of what they may need to document in order to post an identifiable mint.

I'm not always great at sticking to my standards, but I generally take photos of the front view of the corolla, side view of the corolla, fruit (if present), the inflorescence/infructescence, both surfaces of the leaves, and the whole plant in its substrate. This is great for mints of the continental US and Canada, and it is sufficient for species-level identification of nearly every one of the species that occur there.

Here are some examples:

You'll notice I generally like to arrange the photos in a specific order. It represents the way I view mints.

Here are some examples of species that I'm particularly interested in that I go more in depth on:

I'm a little less standardized with fruiting and dead plants, but here are some examples:

When there is no evidence of flowering or fruiting, close up images of all features can go a long way:

Hopefully this helps to explain what features mint IDers hope to see in observations.

Posted on May 04, 2022 10:43 PM by alex_abair alex_abair | 5 comments | Leave a comment

January 15, 2022

A Year in Review

It has been one year since the creation of this project, and a lot has been done with the curation of mints from the Continental US and Canada. The total number of verifiable observations in this project has increased from ~346k to ~508k, and the percentage of research grade has also increased from 71.93% to 76.48%. That's a huge deal! And it's thanks to lot of great curatorial work by a couple hundred people in the last year.

Some individuals have put in hundreds of hours to ID species they know and care about.  @alan_prather and @pynklynx have been plugging away at Monarda, @polemoniaceae has been cleaning up Scutellaria, @igor_kuzmin has added IDs to just about every Glechoma observation, @kschoon is sharing his Trichostema dissertation knowledge, @brothernorbert takes care of Eurasian non-natives like Ajuga, and @moritz3 made a huge impact on Lamium species. Many others have put in incredible amounts of work on other groups too, and I'd love to acknowledge the rest of the top 100 IDers here:

@jrebman @sambiology @grnleaf @graysquirrel @else @mcaple @erininmd @tsn @moritz3 @jayhorn @matt_g @cosmiccat @connlindajo @vandalsen @popb25 @lanechaffin @aguilita @joshua_tx @catchang @csledge @kai_schablewski @wdvanhem @brent_baker @matthias55 @franpfer @adiamond @lfelliott @nathantaylor @peakaytea @tminatbe @bouteloua @alabamaplants @sadawolk @apgarm @pucak @ghostburglar @cwbarrows @tlit46 @andyjones1 @conboy @glmory @oxalismtp @esummerbell @srall @arboretum_amy @maryah @oceanicwilderness @j_appleget @sedgequeen @serpophaga @ajwright @wildlandblogger @corey22 @tkoffel @aarongunnar @prairie_rambler @kathrynwells333 @jim_keesling @charlie @jrichardabbott @seanblaney @stevejones @gwynethgovers @nana10 @evan8 @marykeim @alan_prather @philipwoodscc @je9h @sterrett @ken_j_allison @sganley @ericpo1 @txlorax @raymie @schoenitz @cyndie42 @mjpapay @eknuth @suz @marthar @cedric_lee @lcplinske @alisonnorthup @choess @rymcdaniel @ronstephens @borisbolshakov @johnwampler @bacchusrock @katermorgan @fernslu @rednat @birgitknorr @ronvanderhoff @kueda

Thanks for all the work you do, and I hope you can continue to improve these observations in 2022!

If you want some ideas for chipping away at this collection, check out previous posts or click on the links below.

Posted on January 15, 2022 02:55 AM by alex_abair alex_abair | 10 comments | Leave a comment

April 03, 2021

Identification Stats: UPDATE

It's been 10 weeks since the start of this project, and there's been a lot of progress since then! In those 2.5 months, 24,355 observations have been moved to research grade (348 every day on average). As of today (April 3rd, 2021) there are 354,696 verifiable mint observations in Continental US and Canada on iNaturalist, and that number is growing exponentially. The number of observations stuck at "Needs ID" has dropped from 97,123 on Jan. 21st to 82,516 today.

Here's a summary of the progress that has been made since late January. The arrows indicate the progress and changes in composition of unidentified/unverified mint observations.

JAN. 21, 2021 APR. 03, 2021 RANK CONSTRAINED "Identify" LINKS
RANK    # of Project Obs. Needing IDs    % of Project Obs. Needing IDs    # of Project Obs. Needing IDs    % of Project Obs. Needing IDs (Click below to make some IDs!)
= Family 2,875 02.96% 2,581(🡻) 03.17%(🡹) Obs. stuck at family level.
= Subfamily 602 00.62% 551(🡻) 00.68%(🡹) Obs. stuck at subfamily level.
= (Sub)Tribe 1,641 01.69% 1,496(🡻) 01.84%(🡹) Obs. stuck at tribe or subtribe level.
= Genus 34,362 35.38% 30,227(🡻) 37.08%(🡹) Obs. stuck at genus level.
≤ Subgenus 57,643 59.35% 46,402(🡻) 56.92%(🡻) Obs. stuck at species level.

As you may have noticed from others' observations or your time spent outside, we're in the peak of a spring mint season. Lamium amplexicaule and Lamium purpureum are exploding out there among other exotic Lamioideae (Leonurus, Glechoma, Marrubium). It's not all exotics, invasives, and aggressives though. Some native Salvia species are in full flower, and Florida's endemic mints are starting off strong. Plenty of IDing to do if you're looking for a targeted curating task.

And please help with scoring phenology if you have the time. Only 14.44% of all 354,787 mint observations in the Continental US and Canada have been marked as "budding", "flowering", "fruiting", or "no evidence of flowering". If you want to see what some of the useful results of phenology scoring look like, take a look at what's been done with Florida mints.

Posted on April 03, 2021 08:16 AM by alex_abair alex_abair | 2 comments | Leave a comment

January 21, 2021

Identification Stats and Targets for Improvement

As of today (Jan. 21, 2021) there are 345,955 mint observations in Continental US and Canada with 71.93% at research grade. That's pretty good!

Only 97,123 observations left to ID! That number may seem daunting, but it is truly manageable. Let's break down those observations into categories.

2.96% at family level
0.62% at subfamily level
1.69% at tribe/subtribe level
35.38% at genus level
59.35% at subgenus or lower

An undetermined percentage of these are as good as they can get, and they will be marked accordingly in due time. Many of these observations, however, just haven't been seen by IDers or perhaps the experts that have the necessary knowledge to bump observations down from genus to species or lower. Over the next year, I will be adding helpful URLs for taxa that need attention along with information necessary for IDers to make informed judgments about IDs. And once the Flora of North America publishes the Lamiaceae volume, we can make some serious progress.

In the meantime, if you're feeling ambitious and want to help out, here are a few things you can sink some time into:

  1. Mark cultivated plants as such to move them to "casual grade". Some commonly cultivated taxa are Salvia yangii, Nepeta spp (excluding Nepeta cataria), Plectranthus spp., Stachys byzantina, and a few others.
  2. ID some super common mints rapid fire. These include Prunella vulgaris, Lamium amplexicaule, Lamium purpureum, Glechoma hederacea, Clinopodium vulgare, Monarda fistulosa, Salvia lyrata", and *Marrubium vulgare. People tend to have a hard time with Prunella vulgaris, Lamium amplexicaule, Lamium purpureum, and Glechoma hederacea, so I will post a new key for those soon!
  3. Correct misidentifications associated with common name confusion. Main example: lamb's ear is the common name people tend to use for both Stachys byzantina and Verbascum thapsus.
  4. Expert IDs. If you're an expert with any mint taxa, iNat needs your help! Particularly with Stachys, Scutellaria, California Salvia, Monarda, Florida scrub mints, and Synandreae (especially in Texas). Ajugoideae in general needs a fair amount of work too.

Anyway, I hope you're excited about the prospect of iNat's community data. And I hope you're excited about North American mints! Or at least easily persuaded to be excited about a beautiful family of plants.

Posted on January 21, 2021 09:19 PM by alex_abair alex_abair | 0 comments | Leave a comment