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What happens when trees bud and bloom early?

Posted: 11:01AM April 4th, 2017 | Comments

It’s been a month of madness, but it has nothing to do with the NCAA basketball tournament, March Madness. This month has been full of random 60 degree sunny days, with snowflakes falling the next. Although it’s been fun for us to enjoy these unusually hot and sunny days, what does this really mean?

    A few of you, like me, may have noticed some early budding flowers due to this weird weather. When this happened, personally, I had a little freak out moment for multiple reasons. I knew the warm weather was an association with climate change, and to see the effects at play, caused some worry inside me. My other worry was the budding plants not being able to survive the winter-like conditions that were still ahead. However, after many podcasts and readings from scientists, I have learned that we can all let out a sigh of relief- at least in the short term.

Despite the fact that we clearly still have the biggest issue at hand, climate change, we can at least be content knowing that our plants will most likely be okay. Horticulturist Sue Pfeiffer says that early blooming spring plants and flowers know how to deal with temperature fluctuation and can survive the loss of a few buds when the temperatures plunge again. This means that although the plants are budding sooner, it won’t necessarily affect their growth rates or abilities. The difference that we may see when an early spring arises is, because some plants have a deterministic life cycle, if the plant’s bud sooner, they will also close sooner. Early blooming could also cause a change in our typical plant seasons, with the risk of disrupting the critically important link between wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. Nevertheless, I am encouraged by the resiliency of our trees and plants to adapt to changing weather and climate conditions- and for humans and animals to do the same!

P.S. Don’t forget that early budding means an early onset of allergies!


Written by Carly Winner, Sustainable Schools Initiative Intern: Outdoor Learning Network

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