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!