Illinois Botanists Big Year 2019

Illinois Botanists Big Year Homepage

And the winner is…

…it’s close! Our top two competitors by number of plant species observed in Illinois in a single year are:

Derek Ziomber (@dziomber) with 1,149 species


Jared Gorrell (@wildlandblogger) with 1,136 species

As of 26 January 2019, Derek had made 1,672 “research grade” (RG) observations of 1,149 species and Jared had made 4,202 RG observations of 1,136 plant species. Congrats to you both! This year was a close race between our top two botanists and a bit nerve-wracking near the end as the species list just kept growing and growing! The data on iNaturalist are continually changing as new IDs come in, so these are just a snapshot. They each have over 100 more species that just didn’t get confirmed.

Here they are in southern Illinois: Jared Gorrell (@wildlandblogger) on the left and Derek Ziomber (@dziomber) on the right. Thanks to Jeff Skrentny (@skrentnyjeff) for the photo. A phenomenal job by these two botanizers, both of whom broke 1000 research grade plant species for the first time in Illinois Botanists Big Year history, and who were actually numbers #13 and #14 by number of RG plant species observed worldwide. And that’s compared to people who live in mega biodiversity hotspots like South Africa and southern California.

2019 Illinois Botanists Big Year Stats

4,040 observers
58,000 research grade observations of plants
1,930 species
1,470 identifiers

Most Species

  1. @dziomber – 1,149
  2. @wildlandblogger – 1,136
  3. @sanguinaria33 – 881
  4. @sedge – 817
  5. @elfaulkner – 769
  6. @johnhboldt – 758
  7. @skrentnyjeff – 711
  8. @bouteloua – 527
  9. @kkucera – 489
  10. @missgreen – 372

Most Observations

  1. @wildlandblogger – 4,202
  2. @johnhboldt – 3,626
  3. @dziomber – 1,672
  4. @sanguinaria33 – 1,583
  5. @sedge – 1,416
  6. @bouteloua – 1,41
  7. @skrentnyjeff – 1,304
  8. @elfaulkner – 1,191
  9. @taco2000 – 1,044
  10. @kkucera – 878

The Sedgehead

Most species in the genus Carex:
@dziomber with 63 species and @sedge close behind with 62!

The Grassmaster

Most species within the family Poaceae:
@dziomber with 77 species!

The Sporophyte

Most species outside of flowering plants, Magnoliophyta):
@wildlandblogger with 71 species!

The 100 Club:

botanizers who made research grade observations of over 100 species of plants in Illinois in 2019: @andrewhipp @andrewstpaul @bouteloua @brdnrdr @brendanrattin @carolt-80 @conniecowan @d_coulter @dziomber @eattaway92 @elfaulkner @eriko @ewarden @geodude365 @grantfessler @ja5 @jackassgardener @jakeskee @jawinget @jenhugstrees @joelmc @johnhboldt @k2018lena @kennedy9094 @kkucera @matt167 @maureenclare @missgreen @mn2010 @naturalist_glenn @outdoorsie @owenkathriner @plantdruid @prairiehobbit @psweet @randyshonkwiler @redadmiral98 @rgraveolens @rin_nd @rtriveline @sanguinaria33 @sedge @skrentnyjeff @ssinn @stocksdale @taco2000 @tararat @timfelinski0251 @ty-sharrow @vvoelker @whimbrelbirder @wildernessbarbie @wildlandblogger @woodridgejeff

Most IDs

Most identifications for other people (Needs ID & Research Grade observations of plants in Illinois in 2019):
@mcaple with 9,040 IDs!
Followed up by @evan8 (8,317) and @wildlandblogger (7,325).

Most Improving IDs

That is the number of times they were first-to-ID a species that the community subsequently agreed with:
@mcaple again with 2,293!
Followed up by @bouteloua (902) and @prairiehobbit (783).

Species New to Illinois on iNat

Dozens of species new to iNat in Illinois this year. A few listed below:

Nice Photos

Just three of my favorite photos from the year.
I posted lots more photos on our Facebook group:

Collinsia verna by @jsatler in Jackson County:
Floerkea proserpinacoides by @kkucera in Cook County:
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae by @musicmanz in McHenry County:

and finally…

Don’t forget to join the 2020 project:
(click the Join button in the top right)

Thanks to all for sharing your plant explorations this year!
Happy botanizing in 2020!
—@bouteloua (cassi saari)


Find the most plant species in Illinois in 2019 and rejoice in your victory!

In 2016, the Illinois Native Plant Society hosted the first annual Illinois Botanists Big Year. Anyone may participate, from professional botanist to plant identification novice, by uploading photographic proof of their plant sightings to an online database: iNaturalist. Through the website or mobile apps, botanical enthusiasts upload photos, a species identification, GPS location, date of sighting, and field notes. Since other iNaturalist users can help with identification, participants need not be plant experts and can learn quite a bit about plants just by snapping photos and engaging with the community.

How to join in the fun: Add your plant observations to the website or iPhone/Android app and it’ll automatically count toward the contest if it meets the rules below. Join the conversation on the Illinois Botanists Big Year Facebook group.


  1. Must be a plant (bryophytes and vascular plants – native and non-native species are accepted)
  2. Observation must be within Illinois
  3. Must be observed between the dates of January 1st, 2019 and December 31st, 2019 (and uploaded by January 15th, 2020)
  4. Observation must be “research grade.” That means it must be “wild/naturalized” and that you need a photo, date, location, and at least two people to agree on the species, to confirm the identification accuracy

Nature newbie? No worries – we will help identify any plants you see. Don’t have a smartphone? You can upload photos through the website without need for a smartphone. Just take a photo and upload it to and identify as best as you can, even if that’s just “plant.”

Winning Categories:

Help others get to research grade by identifying or confirming their observations!


Illinois Botanists Big Year 2020
Illinois Botanists Big Year 2019
Illinois Botanists Big Year 2018
Illinois Botanists Big Year 2017
Illinois Botanists Big Year 2016