September/October 2020 Newsletter
In order to better collect and analyze data, Budburst has combined our one-time and life-cycle phenology observation protocols into one phenology observation protocol. This observation protocol can be used for plants that you see once or visit regularly. This new form still records plant name and location as well as observation date and phenology, but no longer requires life-cycle observers to go back and edit reports in order to add new observations. Now when phenology changes occur on a plant you are monitoring, you can just submit a phenology observation. As multiple phenology observations are submitted on a plant you see regularly, we can better gauge changes to a plant's full life cycle.

Updated printable report forms are available below and all observations can be uploaded at
Wildflowers and Herbs - Phenology Observation Form
Deciduous Trees and Shrubs - Phenology Observation Form
Conifer Trees and Shrubs - Phenology Observation Form
Broadleaf Evergreens - Phenology Observation Form
New Curriculum Resources for Educators
Budburst has developed curriculum resources for Grades 3-5 to facilitate the integration of Budburst phenology observations into classrooms for both hybrid or remote learning. Through 7 different lessons students will become Budburst community scientists and study the timing of seasonal life events in plants.
Phenologically speaking...
This September many native plants are getting ready for fall. Is this YOUR favorite season of the year? Below are a variety of autumnal selections featuring each of the Budburst plant groups. Let's do some observing!
Plant Quiz! Answer bottom of newsletter. Hint: This plant's leaves turn more purple in the fall than others of its genus.
Scientist Spotlight
Meet Dr. Christa Mulder, a Professor of Ecology in the Department of Biology & Wildlife and Institute of Arctic Biology, both at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Christa's research focuses on "how plants in the far North are responding to the rapid changes in their environment, especially when it comes to reproduction." She works on plants with fleshy fruits, more commonly termed berries. These fruits are important for boreal and arctic mammals and birds, as well as people, especially those living in rural communities where fresh fruit is scarce and expensive.
Photo by Katie Spellman
Right now Christa is trying to answer two questions: Almost all boreal and arctic plants form their flower buds at least a year before they flower, so how does a warming climate affect bud development in the year before flowering? And, earlier springs lead to earlier fruit production in the fall. How does early ripening and warmer, possibly wetter, fall conditions affect whether fruits stay on plants in the fall and winter? This last question matters to animals with few food options in winter and spring.
Photo by Anne Ruggles
Christa does much of her work in Fairbanks, Alaska, but collaborates with people, from kids to adults, all over Alaska. Up North is a good place to look at phenology because the climate is changing rapidly and boreal forests are understudied. Christa can also compare how things are changing in the very different Alaskan environments, from the tundra in the north of the state to the temperate rainforest in the southern part.
Christa and her colleagues, Pam Diggle and Eileen Schaub, I found that for lowbush cranberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea, also known as lingonberry), warming the immature flower buds the year before the plants flower, delays flowering the following spring. Christa said "I first had an inkling of that from looking at long-term trends of flowering plants, but confirming it experimentally (by sticking plants in little greenhouses with the tops cut off) was pretty exciting! It helps explain why these plants have not changed their flowering time much despite the increase in temperatures in the regions where they occur."
Photo by Anne Ruggles
This month's EcoQuest focuses on the search for New England asters and invasive Silver grass. Help find these plants and Budburst can inform the Chicago Park District, the Forest Preserves of Cook County, and other land managers!
Next month's EcoQuest focuses on the search for remaining ash trees and invasive Burning bush.
Plant Quiz Answer
White ash fall color ranges from yellow to deep purple and maroon. Its wood is often used for timber or more famously to make baseball bats. Like other ash trees in North America, it is threatened by the emerald ash borer.