An impatient spring – phenological observations of flowering plants at QUBS.

Spring has arrived at QUBS impatiently.  It seems that summer has arrived when it should be spring.  Over the past month researchers have rushed in to take on the fast arriving season, marveling at how synchronously early disparate taxa have been.

According to our colleagues working on amphibians, they seemed to be approximately 2 weeks earlier than previous years.  I was curious to see if plants also had similar early phenologies.

Aquilegia canadensis

I documented the first observation of a particular species flowering to establish an approximate first flowering date during my hikes to my study populations.  Once my study species (Aquilegia canadensis) has reached peak flower, I had to abandon this little bit of curiosity, so I apologize in advance for my lack of observations between April 27 and May 12.

Here is a list of flowering plant species and the first day I saw them flowering:

Trillium grandiflorum (Before April 15, Bedford Road and Skycroft Trails)
Trillium erectum (Before April 15, Bedford Road and Skycroft Trails)
Dicentra cucullaria (April 15, Lindsay Lake Trail)
Claytonia caroliniana (April 20, Skycroft Trails)
Aquilegia canadensis (April 22, Lindsay Lake Trail, 1.5 weeks ahead)
Erythronium americanum (April 23, Skycroft Trails)
Sanguinaria canadensis (April 24, Skycroft Trails & Bedford Road)
Fragaria virginiana (April 25, Skycroft Trails)
Mitella nuda (April 25, Lindsay Lake Trail)
Thalictrum dioicum (April 20, Bedford Road)
Uvularia grandiflora (April 24, Bedford Road)
Phlox divericata (April 27, Rock Lake Lane)
Antennaria neglecta (May 12, Rock Lke Lane)
Phlox divericata (May 13, Opinicon road, beside Skycroft Trail)
Corydalis sempervirens (May 14, Bedford Road)

It seems like the phenology of most species have been advanced by 1-2 weeks.  Though not all species were equally advanced, based on this haphazard and anecdotal account, it will be very interesting to find out how organisms in mutualistic relationships (such as pollinators and flowering plants) coordinate (if they do so) their phenology.  They might exploit similar environmental cues, but phenological matching might be rather stochastic.

I will continue this account of first flowers observed as long as I am in the field.  Hopefully with multiple year’s worth of quick anecdotal observations in this region we can gain some insight into phenological variation among all these interesting organisms studied at QUBS. Post – Andy Wong

2 thoughts on “An impatient spring – phenological observations of flowering plants at QUBS.”

  1. “Has arrived impatiently” is a bit of an understatement. Seems like spring exploded. The Dutchman’s breeches burst forth and disappeared very quickly, as did the hepaticas. 1001 things I wanted to photograph, 101 chores that need to be done before I can play with the cameras, and things are escaping rapidly. Will you be checking back to see if the insects were keeping up for pollination, especially with that spell of cold nights, how will the seed crop of springflowers turn out?

    It will be interesting to watch the onset of the “summer” blooms.

  2. I am indeed checking to see if pollinators are matching the phenology of the plants and overall I think there’s a slight mismatch. For example, hummingbirds did not arrive until almost all the Aquilegia canadensis flowers have set fruit. Though bumblebees did take advantage of that and visited the red columbines.

    From what I can tell, most springflowers are still setting fruits, though many of the fruits are a little less substantial with many unfertilized ovules.

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