What is PlantWatch?
PlantWatch is part of our national NatureWatch series of volunteer monitoring programs designed to help identify ecological
changes that may be affecting our environment. PlantWatch partners include representatives from each province and territory. Our goal is to encourage Canadians of all
ages to get involved in helping scientists discover how, and more importantly why, our natural environment is changing.
The PlantWatch program enables "citizen scientists" to get involved by recording flowering times for selected plant species and
reporting these dates to researchers through the Internet or by mail. When you submit your data electronically, it's added
instantly to Web maps showing bloom dates across Canada, so your observations make a difference right away!
PlantWatching has a long tradition and rich history. In 1750 the Swedish scientist and artist Linnaeus turned plantwatching
into a systematic science. He made calendars of flowering times for 18 places in Sweden, also noting the exact climatic conditions
at these times. This was the foundation of modern plant phenology which spread to many European countries and revealed, over the
centuries, that some spring wildflowers are super-sensitive weather instruments!
Over one hundred years ago in Canada, Nova Scotia's Superintendent of education, Dr. Alexander H. MacKay had students collect
plant, animal, agricultural and weather phenology from 1897-1923. Then in 1987 the Alberta Wildflower Survey started and
blossomed into a program that initiated Alberta PlantWatch. The Alberta program then advised in the creation of Nova Scotia
and Newfoundland PlantWatch. Today there are PlantWatch programs in each Province and Territory.