I stumbled upon information regarding this program and decided to give it a shot. Project BudBurst, is a national program that enlists volunteers across the country to help scientists study the biological/seasonal rhythms of plant life – in other words, phenology. By mapping seasonal timing of first leafing, first flowering, and first fruiting of a diverse group of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses, scientists hope to shed some light on climate change across time.
Volunteers simply choose which plants to track in their area, make note of the dates of specific phonologic events such as first leaf or flower, and register their observations via the website listed above. I chose to monitor the first flower of jack-in-the-pulpit, my one stand of eastern red columbine, and the dandelions that are so prevalent in my lawn. I’ll also take note of the first leafing and flowering of a lone tulip poplar tree in the woods behind my house.
The website makes it relatively easy to choose plants for observation by listing plants according to their area or state, and providing printable fact sheets, complete with photos, of each tree, shrub, flower, or grass. These fact sheets … helpful identification tools even if you don’t participate in Project BudBurst… list common and scientific names, and characteristics, as well as which phenologic observation to note in the online register.
The 2007 data is already posted and should be soon joined by 2008 data. This seasoned gardener is looking forward to combining her observations with the growing numbers of others collected from across the country – seems like it would be a fun learning experience for budding young investigators as well. Keep me posted if you choose to participate … perhaps we can compare notes.