Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Phenology

Early Redbuds- Click to enlarge
Everyone is commenting on the wildflowers which have bloomed earlier than usual due to the high temperatures.  Tana Pulles has introduced me to the word of the day, phenology- the scientific study of periodic biological phenomena, such as flowering, breeding, and migration, in relation to climatic conditions.  According to University of Wisconsin, Green Bay:
"Phenological records help alert us about the events of nature and provide interesting comparisons between years and among different geographic regions. If recorded carefully and consistently, these records also have scientific value for understanding the interactions between organisms and their environment and for assessing the impacts of climate change."
This is certainly the banner year for the phenologist.  With the record warm temperatures most every species is ahead of schedule.  We have been finding ticks crawling on us occasionally all winter, but now they are out in force.  Butterflies are out in profusion, ignoring the calendar.  Spicebush has been coloring the woods for several weeks now.  Even the tadpoles seem to be ahead of schedule.

Ohio Buckeye
Buckeyes are the first trees to leaf out and they have all ready expanded their leaves and are well on their way toward blossoming.  By August they will have produced the beautiful nut which any true Ozarker knows will bring good luck when carried in your pocket.

Suddenly the wildflowers were popping out overnight and you could almost hear the trees' buds bursting out.  But not all regional climate is the same so budding varies from place to place.  There is a micro-climate along out deep Bull Creek valley where the trees are behind Springfield a few days.  While Redbuds were fully budded out in town last week,  they were in their early stages in the valley. 

False Rue Anemone
Dutchman's Breeches
Wildflowers are now popping up everywhere, False rue anemone is covering thinly wooded slopes, joined by a few Dutchman's breeches, named for their resemblance to upside-down pantaloon trousers.  (OK, I was just looking for an excuse to post my latest wildflower pictures.)  Anyway, phenology is a good excuse as well for justifying the time you spend journaling your findings.  Enjoy!

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