Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events, like when birds start building their nests or when sugar maples begin running sap. Phenology—as documented in this great piece on lohud.com—is a powerful tool for scientists tracking seasonal changes brought about by climate change. Whether it’s a researcher at Walden Pond using Thoreau’s journals, the long-running logs kept at the Mohonk Mountain House, or our own team of citizen scientists, phenologists are on the front line of monitoring this phenomenon. ~AR
Everyone—even people who aren’t allergic to poison ivy—knows this little couplet. But did you know there’s a second stanza (and in some instances a third)?
Leaves of three, let it be.
Hairy vine, no friend of mine.
Berries white, run in fright.
What? Berries? Yep, berries. Poison ivy isn’t just a threat in summer, it’s also a threat in fall and winter, a lesson learned in a painful fashion by Apartment Therapy blogger, The Gardenist. Rochelle was foraging for twigs and berries for a Thanksgiving centerpiece workshop when she stumbled upon some very pretty and very plentiful white berries. She gathered them, took them home, and soon succumbed to the pain and suffering only poison ivy can inflict.
Rochelle is a good sport though, because she then draws some really excellent conclusions based on phenology about why she had never noticed poison ivy berries before. So click through to read her tale of woe and to arm yourself with her hard-earned knowledge. And remember our little rhyme, because your iPhone isn’t a reliable reference for these kinds of things. ~AR
Why Thoreau? Many reasons. Thoreau’s “Walden,” had been for many an introduction to environmental movement, and a rallying cry for ecological protection. But another reason is that Thoreau was an early phenologist. Over the course of many years he recorded the earliest bloom times or migratory arrivals of over 300 species in a series of notebooks and charts. These notes now allow scientists like Richard B. Primack, a biology professor at Boston University, Abraham J. Miller-Rushing, of Acadia National Park, and the illustrator Becca Stadtlander to draw some slightly worrying conclusions in the New York Times.
What do you think? Do you think the environment has irrevocably changed? Do you think non-existent winters and hot, dry springs are the new normal? ~AR
Gardeners in the Northeast beware: Next year’s gardening season may see an epic uptick in cases of Lyme disease, caused by a shortage of acorns. No, seriously … acorns.
According to this fascinating piece in the Times, oak trees in the Northeast are dropping a literal fraction of their usual number of acorns; on average less than a 1/2 lb. each (compared with a usual output of 25-30 pounds). How does this affect Lyme disease rates? Acorns are the petrochemicals of the northeast deciduous forest. They feed rodents and deer, and affect ground-nesting bird populations. The dearth of acorns will likely cause a cataclysmic drop in rodent populations and may push deer and other large rodents to forage father afield (and closer to roads). And what all of these eventually leads to is fewer hosts for one of nature’s most maligned blood-suckers: deer ticks.
Where will they go for blood? Us. Humans. So as the gardening season ramps up this spring remember to wear long sleeves, tuck in your sock, wear tons of bug spray, and to do daily tick-checks. It’s a jungle out there. Garden safe.
Beautiful post from our friend Karen of the blog Outside Now about her trip to the Garden to possibly join our Citizen Scientist Phenology program.