Saturday, February 4, 2012

Early flowering and phenology

" Phenology is derived from the Greek word phaino , meaning to show or appear. Phenology refers to recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, such as leafing and flowering, maturation of agricultural plants, emergence of insects, and migration of birds.  It is also the study of these recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, especially their timing and relationships with weather and climate."
~ USA National Phenology network.

Roundleaf Hepatica

Oconee Bells

First emerging Mayapple
Phenology has been on my mind this week as we have enjoyed several days over 70 degrees fahrenheit.  It seemed unseasonably warm for late January as I shed my jacket and rolled up my sleeves looking for signs of Spring.  Early in the week I learned the USDA had changed the plant hardiness zone map to reflect data collected over a period of 30 years, more sophisticated mapping techniques and the warming trends we have experienced over the past few years. (npr.org)  Clemson has moved from zone 7B to 8A, a zone that,until this new map was issued, belonged to South Carolinians living below Columbia. I wondered what might be happening in the garden in the beginning of February, in light of this shift in our designated climate zone.
In the Woodland Wildflower Garden I  discovered life was stirring already, perhaps three weeks earlier that I expected (although I have never kept written records).  There were several signs of spring: Hepatica, Violets and Oconee Bells in flower.  In front of Crucible, after a somewhat intense search, I discovered an emerging MayApple.  I love this plant, just for the way it unfurls like a beautiful glossy green umbrella.  I have never kept phenological records, but perhaps this might be an interesting and valuable project for Garden visitors.  The US National Phenology Network is monitoring many species of plants and animals and would welcome the efforts of citizen scientists to gather data visit their website for more information.

1 comment:

LKW said...

Remarkable to have seen an Oconee Bell this early! I'd have expected the hepatica and viola, since it's been so warm. Soil temps are pretty high, so that's pushing things, too.