There are two ways to report if you want to observe plants in your area and contribute your observations. You can do it online (link to www.plantwatch.ca) and report what plants you are observing and where and when you made the observations. You can also do it by printing the data recording sheet (data sheet in PDF).
If you enter your observations on-line, you will immediately contribute to this year’s observations and can update your records as you wish throughout the flowering season.
Plantwatch : How to get started
(with thanks to Stéphane Bailleul of “Opération Floraison” in Quebec)
- Pick one type of plant to start with. It is not the quantity of flowering dates but rather the quality which is important. Trying to watch and report on many plant species can become hard to manage, and spring is a busy time of year.
- Pick a plant that is easy to recognize. There are several easy species to choose from such as dandelion, strawberry or lilac. Observing species such as aspen poplar or larch requires recognizing male from female catkins or cones (which can be challenging).
- Only pick plants that you can easily observe on a regular basis. As the flowering date of your plant approaches, you will need to check the plant almost daily.
- Pick plants away from building walls or foundations. These structures may provide extra warmth and artificially speed up the plant’s bloom time. If possible pick a plant in a flat area.
- Mark your plants in some way or at least note some landmarks nearby, so that you can find the same patch of that plant in future years. This is especially necessary in natural areas away from houses and towns. It is easy to forget which patch of prairie crocus, violets, or dandelions was observed the previous year.
- Know the definitions for first bloom, mid-bloom (and for some species: leafing) for your chosen plants. These definitions vary between different species, and it is important to report the date matching the description. (Suggestion: copy these definitions into a notebook which you take with you when you visit your plants.)
- The most important dates for Plantwatch are those of first bloom. Don’t worry if you miss the later dates (mid bloom and leafing) for your species.
- If possible, select plants whose bloom time is about average for your area (not the earliest, or latest for that species).
- Please send us your dates as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the easier it is to forget to send them.
- If possible, keep a copy every year of your dates, to refer to in future. It is fun to compare the timing of different years!
- Please promote Plantwatch to your friends and get them involved in this addictive spring activity. They will learn more about plants and nature every year. Thanks for your help as ‘eyes of science’, reporting essential information on how plants respond to changes in climate. We hope you enjoy keeping your finger on nature’s pulse!