Tag Archives: phenology

What’s in Bloom? – April 2020

Even though most of the trees are still bare and must of us awoke to snow on the ground this weekend, spring has arrived and with it are some of the most beautiful blooms of the year.

Spring Flowering Bulbs

Pink and purple hyacinth flowers
Hyacinthus orientalis
Clump of white daffodils with bright orange centers and yellow daffodils
Daffodils (Narcissus spp.)

The crocuses have all but faded, but the daffodils continue to bloom, brightening up the drab landscape with their cheery yellows and oranges.   They have recently been joined by the hyacinths.  With their overpowering fragrance, these flowers add to springs color palette with their cool colors of pink and purple.

Grape Hyacinth - cones of tightly packed purple flowers

You may have noticed some small purple flowers known as grape hyacinths.   Not a true hyacinth,  the inflorescence of this flower is a cone of small purple flowers that almost looks like a miniature clump of grapes.

White daffodiles with bright yellow center
Daffodil ‘Ice Follies‘

If you want to bring some spring cheer inside (highly recommended), it is best to give daffodils their own vase as their stems secrete a substance that is harmful to other flowers.

 

Spring Ephemerals

White and purple flowers growing out of a patch of soil
A mixture of the white spring ephemeral bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) and the purple spring bulb green anemone (Anemone blanda).
Clump of small flowers with five purple petals a light yellow center
Hepatica nobilis

One of the great joys of spring is the appearance of spring ephemerals.  These native plants grow in wooded areas and only have a short time to flower before the trees above them leaf out and block their sunlight.  When you are walking through wooded areas in the spring, make sure you watch your feet or might step on the delicate flowers of the bloodroot or the hepatica.

Other Spring Blooms

Clusters of cascading pink flowers
Andromeda (Pieris japonica)
Small purple and magenta flowers in a mass of green leaves with white spots
Lungwort (Pulmaria spp.)

From the showy flowers of the andromeda bush to the subtle flowers of the lungwort, the more time you spend out side the more flowers you’ll notice.

Weeds – It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Dandelion with a bright yellow flower growing in the crack between two pavers
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Many spring flowering plants are considered weeds.  You may think that dandelion in your lawn is unsightly, but the bees beg to differ.  Dandelions are an important source of pollen and nectar for bees in the early spring as are other spring flowering ‘weeds’ like purple deadnettle and henbit.

What about Fungus?

Bright orange sphere with orange tentecales attached to the needles of an evergreen tree
Cedar-Apple Rust Gall (Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae)

Now fungi aren’t plants, so they don’t have flowers, but they can add color to the landscape.  In the spring cedar-apple rust galls that overwintered on juniper become more noticeable as they produce gelatinous tendrils that release spores  into the air.  Some of these spores will find their way to apple trees where they can cause problems by infecting the leaves and the fruit of the tree.


Happy Spring!

Spring bouquet of bright yellow daffodils and forsythia, purple grape hyacunth, white andromeda, and buds of a pink cherry treeThanks to all of the Master Gardener Volunteers who provided their thoughts and photos for this post!

April is Citizen Science Month!

What is citizen science? 

Scientists are limited in the amount of data they can collect by both time and money.  With help from members of the general public, known as citizen scientists, researchers are able to crowd source data collection collecting more data from more places helping them find answers to real-world questions.

So if you want to do something fun and educational that contributes to the advancement of scientific knowledge, consider becoming a citizen scientist.

Citizen Science Projects


Monarch Butterfly (Orang and Black) - Jouney NorthThe Journey North

This project focuses on migration and seasonal changes.   People all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico, report sightings of birds, monarchs, frogs, and other organism.   Watch as reported sightings are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations that move across the continent.


inaturalist logoi-Naturalist

iNaturalist lets you photograph, identify, and document what’s around you.  Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed.  By sharing your observations with scientists, you will help build our understanding of the natural world.

Never Home Alone

In studying life, scientists have overlooked many regions. Some regions have not been studied because they are so remote. Others because they are so diverse that it is hard to know where to even begin. Then there is the great indoors, which we believe has been understudied in part because it is so immediate. This project aims to document the species that live indoors with humans.


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Logo with Bird in MiddleThe Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world contribute bird observations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology each year, gathering data on a scale once unimaginable. Scientists use these data to reveal how birds are affected by habitat loss, pollution, disease, climate, and other environmental changes. Your participation will help trace bird migration, nesting success, and changes in bird numbers through time.

Celebrate Urban Birds

Celebrate Urban Birds is a citizen science project focused on better understanding the value of green spaces for birds. This project connects people of all ages and backgrounds to birds and the natural world through the arts and fun neighborhood activities.

e-bird

The goal of this project is to gather this information on bird sightings, archive it, and freely share it to power new data-driven approaches to science, conservation and education.  e-Bird also develops tools that make birding more rewarding.  It provides the most current and useful information to the birding community from photos and audio recordings, to seeing real-time maps of species distribution and alerts that let you know when species have been seen.

NestWatch

NestWatch is a nationwide monitoring program designed to track status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds, including when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive.  Their database is intended to be used to study the current condition of breeding bird populations and how they may be changing over time as a result of climate change, habitat degradation and loss, expansion of urban areas, and the introduction of non-native plants and animals.


Logo - The Tick App - Bulls Eye with a the outline of a tick in the miidle suurounded by the words The Tick AppThe Tick App

The Tick App allows people living in high-risk areas for Lyme disease, like Orange County New York, to participate in a tick behavioral study.   Participants complete daily logs and report ticks.  The app provides information on how to remove ticks, prevent tick bites, and general information about ticks.   When enough people are involved, it can also provides information about blacklegged and deer tick activity in our area.


Monarch Caterpilar (Yellow, white, black stripped) on a green leaf - Monarch Larva Monitoring ProjectMonarch Larva Monitoring Program

This citizen science project’s mission is to better understand the distribution and abundance of breeding monarchs and to use that knowledge to inform and inspire monarch conservation.  People from across the United States and Canada participate in this monarch research.  Their observations aid in conserving monarchs and their threatened migratory phenomenon, and advance the understanding of butterfly ecology in general.


Logo - Monarch Watch.org Education, Conservation, ResearchMonarch Watch

Monarch Watch strives to provide the public with information about the biology of monarch butterflies, their spectacular migration, and how to use monarchs to further science education in primary and secondary schools. They engage in research on monarch migration biology and monarch population dynamics to better understand how to conserve the monarch migration.

Monarch Calendar Project

In the spring and fall volunteers collect observations of adult monarchs.  This information is used to  assemble quantitative data on monarch numbers at critical times during the breeding season.

Tagging Monarchs

Each fall Monarch Watch distributes more than a quarter of a million tags to thousands of volunteers across North America who tag monarchs as they migrate through their area. These citizen scientists capture monarchs throughout the migration season, record the tag code, tag date, gender of the butterfly, and geographic location then tag and release them. At the end of the tagging season, these data are submitted to Monarch Watch and added to their database to be used in research.


Logo - The Lost Ladybug ProjectThe Lost Ladybug Project

In the past twenty years, native ladybugs that were once very common have become extremely rare.  During this same time, ladybugs from other parts of the world have greatly increased in both numbers and range. This is happening very quickly and no one knows how, why, or what impact it will have on ladybug diversity.  Citizen scientists involved in this project help scientists answer these questions by photographing ladybugs and submitting the photos along with information about when and where the ladybugs were found.


Logo - Vegetable Varieties for GardenersVegetable Varieties for Gardeners

A project of Cornell University’s Garden Based Learning, this web forum provides an avenue for gardeners to share knowledge.  Gardeners report what vegetable varieties perform well – and not so well – in their gardens.  Other gardeners can view ratings and read the reviews to decide which might work well for them.  Researchers  use the information gain new insight into the performance of vegetable varieties under a wide range of conditions and practices. The information gathered is also used to make a  Selected List of Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners in New York State.


Logo - The outline of New York State under a picture of a moth, a beetle, a moth and a fly with the words Empire State Native Pollinator SurveyEmpire State Native Pollinator Survey

Native pollinators play an essential role in the pollination of flowering plants, including native plants and wildflowers, garden plants, as well as cultivated crops. Some native pollinator species have suffered population declines over the last few decades.   Participants  in this study submit photographs and/or specimens to help  determine the conservation status of a wide array of native insect pollinators in non-agricultural habitats.


iMapInvasivesiMapInvasives

iMapInvasives is an on-line, GIS-based data management system used to assist citizen scientists and natural resource professionals working to protect our natural resources from the threat of invasive species.  Citizen scientists are provided with resources to help them identify invasive species. Their invasive species findings are aggregated with data from a wide variety of sources contributing to early detection of invasive species as well as analysis of management strategies.


A curated beetle collection with pinned specimens above tagsNotes from Nature

Natural history museums across the world share a common goal – to conserve and make available knowledge about natural and cultural heritage. The Notes from Nature project gives you the opportunity to make a scientifically important contribution towards that goal by transcribing museum records. Every transcription that is completed brings us closer to filling gaps in our knowledge of global biodiversity and natural heritage.


Logo - citizenscience.orgCitizen Science Database

This is an official government website designed to accelerate the use of crowdsourcing and citizen science across the U.S. government.  It includes a searchable database of  a government-wide listing of citizen science and crowdsourcing projects designed to improve cross-agency collaboration, reveal opportunities for new high-impact projects, and make it easier for volunteers to find out about projects they can join.


Become a Citizen Scientist today!

What’s in Bloom?

Bright red flowers on the branch of a red maple tree
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

by Susan Ndiaye, Community Horticulture Educator

Signs of spring abound!   Bird songs fill the air.  Buds on the trees are starting to unfurl.   New shoots are breaking through the soil.  And flowers are beginning to bloom!

Here are some of the flowers to look out for as you venture outside for a breath of fresh air.

When most people think of maple trees, flowers aren’t the first thing that comes to mind.  Red maples are native to the eastern United States and happen to be one of the first trees to flower in the spring.  Their bright pink to red flowers result in the production of thousands of winged fruits called samaras, colloquially referred to as helicopters.  After ripening on the trees for several weeks they will fill the air and litter the ground.

A branch of forsythia in full blloom - yellow flowers
Forsythia spp.

Although many people equate the yellow blossoms of the forsythia with the beginning of spring, the forsythia is not native to New York; it actually native to eastern Asia.  This fast growing shrub is a favorite among homeowners, because it is tolerant to deer, resistant to Japanese beetles, and rarely has disease problems.   If you are looking for a native alternative to forsythia, try spicebush (Lindera benzoin).  This medium sized multi-stemmed shrub has fragrant yellow-green flowers in early spring and supports 12 species of butterflies and  provides berries for the birds.

Snowdrop - small white flower held between someone's thumb and forefinger
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
Bunches of white ane purple crocuses
Crocus spp.

One of the many joys of spring is the emergence of all the spring flowering bulbs.   Some of them are already blooming: snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils (my favorite flower!).   Despite its sometime unsightly appearance, make sure you leave  the foliage alone until it turns yellow and dies back.  This allows the leaves of the plant to produce food through photosynthesis.  This food is stored in the bulb and will be used  to produce even more beautiful flowers next spring!

Hellebores are also flowering! This evergreen herbaceous perennial is native to Turkey, but does well here in Orange County.  It grows well in full or partial shade and has beautiful white to pink to purple flowers that bloom in late winter into  early spring.  Hellebores are rarely damaged by deer and as they are evergreen, after their flowers fade, they make an attractive ground cover

Pink Hellebores (Helleborus spp.)
Varigated pink and with flowe with stringy yellow stamens in the center
Varigated Hellebores (Helleborus spp.)
White flowers with bright yellow stamens in the center
White Hellebores (Helleborus spp.)

As you are out enjoying the sunshine, what other signs of spring do see or hear or smell?

Thanks to all of the Master Gardener Volunteers who provided their thoughts and photos for this post!