Thursday, April 9, 2015

Phenological Observations

T.S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land begins with the line "April is the cruelest month..."

For those of us that love wildflowers this can definitely be true. 

I was looking back through some of my photographs to see when I had first photographed certain species of flowers and the Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) caught my eye.  The range of dates for the first Trillium bloom varied by an entire month over the last

In 2012, my first photograph of this flower dates to April 6th.  I think this marks the earliest date that I have ever found this flower.

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Back in 2009, My first Trillium photograph dates to April 29th.  Normally I find my first Trillium bloom sometime during the last two weeks of April, so this date is at the end of what I would call the "normal" time for first bloom here in Mid-Michigan.

In 2014, I did not find my first Trillium bloom until May 5th.  This is the latest date for first bloom that I have documented.

The study of when certain natural events occur (such as the first Trillium bloom) is called phenology.  Scientists can use phenological observations to help make inferences about changes or shifts in climate over time.  Making phenological observations is an easy project for any citizen scientist - all it requires is making observations and writing them down.  These observations can be shared with other citizen scientists through organizations such as the USA National Phenology Network.

I wonder when I will find my first Large-flowered Trillium of 2015...

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