Watching “Your” Plant Grow Up – From Bud to Bloom to Fall

It’s spring and reminders of the changing season are everywhere at Oregon Ridge.  You can enjoy your Oregon Ridge hikes and visits even more by selecting a favorite tree or plant and carefully observing its changing stages over the growing season.

Perhaps your favorite is one of Oregon Ridge’s ephemeral wildflowers, a trailside mountain laurel, a tulip poplar with its distinctive flowers and leaves, a flowering dogwood or a majestic sycamore.

What to watch for?  It depends upon the type of plant:

  • Deciduous trees and shrubs:  first leaf, all leaves unfolded, first flower, full flower, first ripe fruit, full fruiting, 50% color, 50% leaf fall.
  • Evergreen trees and shrubs:  first flower, full flower, first ripe fruit, full fruiting.
  • Wildflowers and herbs:  first flower, full flower, first ripe fruit, full fruiting, all leaves withered.
  • Conifers:  first needles, first pollen, full pollen, first ripe fruit, full fruiting.
  • Grasses:  first flower stalk, first flowering/pollen, full flowering/pollen, first ripe fruit, full fruiting, all leaves withered.

Scientists call the study of the timing of these changes phenology – literally, the science of appearance.

By sharing your observations with a citizen-scientist project, you can contribute to a better nationwide understanding of the impact over time of land use, invasive species and climate on our natural world.  The Project BudBurst website and Nature’s Notebook website are two user-friendly sites backed by universities, scientific societies, nature and outdoor groups, and governmental bodies.  Both offer terrific online field guides for individual plants and easy-to-use tools for recording observations over a growing season or for a single observation.

Make it a family or class project or simply a source of personal enrichment – and visit Oregon Ridge Park often to observe the growing season in motion.

If you choose a tree or plant to watch over time, please let us know!

Nature at Oregon Ridge Park blog contributor Martha Johnston acknowledges Project BudBurst and the USA National Phenology Network for information contained in this post.

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This entry was posted in dogwood, moutain laurel, Nature's Notebook, phenology, Project BudBurst, skunk cabbage. Bookmark the permalink.

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