Frequently Asked Questions
- I was visiting a friend’s house and noticed that their Lilac was blooming. Would you like me to report this?
- I have an old journal where I used to record the blooming dates of wildflowers. Are you interested in this information?
- I have a Red maple in my yard, it is fairly close to the house, would you still like me to observe when the flowers open?
- I have all kinds of observations but do not want to send you the notebooks that they are in. What should I do to get you this information?
- I can only identify two of the PlantWatch species. Can I still participate in the program?
- I am observing Bearberry at my school and in the woods behind my house. They are pretty close to one another so can I report both plants at the same location?
- I have found a plant that is part of the national suite of 39 but it looks like my province/territory is not asking for reports on it. Do you still want the information?
- My pine tree has pollen shedding cones very high up and it is hard to see. (could also be aspen or balsam poplar shedding pollen from male catkins). What should I do?
A. First, is it a common purple lilac? These are the cultivars we observe, and they have heart shaped leaves, and a tendency to send up new shoots (suckers or sprouts). There are ‘late flowering’ lilacs but the leaves are a different shape.
Second, it is best to report on plants that you have observed over several days in spring so you can catch the exact day that the flower buds open. But if this lilac is located well away from any building walls, and is just opening its first flowers the day you visit, your observation will be valuable.
A. This kind of historic information is very valuable to us. Observations from the past can be directly compared to the observations we are presently collecting. This allows us to make an assessment on how changes in climate are affecting plant phenology. We need to look at long-term trends in order to be accurate with our findings.
A. If you observe the same Maple tree in the same way year after year these results become a key source for data. To observe the same tree, shrub or plant year after year give us the best comparison and results! But I think this observer is wondering whether the fact that tree is close to house is a problem. If the tree is on a south facing wall, it may well bloom many days before other ones in the area. So we ask people to report on trees away from walls or obstacles like fences. One way around this is for observers to add to their data sheet or observation form that they are reporting ‘in a garden’; then add under ‘Optional details’ that it is in open sun; and finally include under ‘Comments’ how many metres from a wall, and what direction the wall faces. Essentially it is easier to pick tree away from heat sources. This is what I tell my observers as well. If the only tree which they can watch is close to a building, then they can observe it and record that it is close to a building.
A. You can submit historical information, dating back as many years as you like, using the online submission form.
A. Even one observation is valuable information! Please report on plants that you can identify. Use the PlantWatch program as a learning opportunity and familiarise yourself with a few new species every year.
A. It is very important that each plant you observe has its own unique location. We need to have very specific latitude and longitude values in order to compare the observations. Each location you report from will have different elevation, slope and amount of exposure to sunlight. All of these factors influence bloom time and help in the interpretation of the observation.
A. Each provincial and territorial PlantWatch program has chosen species that will give the best information for that region. So some of the 39 species that have been chosen nationally may occur in your area but are not part of the program in your region. Check the website or the PlantWatch guide to see the plants to keep track of in your area.
A. Binoculars may be a useful tool in this case. But it’s best to find trees which have low branches, so pollen shedding happens where you can easily flick a branch with your finger to see if pollen shedding has begun.