Elisabeth C. Miller Library logo Miller Library Home UW Botanic Gardens Home UW Botanic Gardens Home book graphic

3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98195 | (206) 543 0415 | Open Monday Noon-8; Tuesday - Friday 9-5; Saturday 9-3

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Search Results for ' Plant phenology'

PAL Questions: 2 - Garden Tools:

Display all answers | Hide all answers


 

Keywords: Lathyrus odoratus, Plant phenology, Pisum, Planting time, Syringa

PAL Question:

It's already the middle of March and I'm worried that our soil is still too cold to plant peas (both edible and sweet). When is the correct time to plant them in the Seattle area?

View Answer:

Since weather patterns vary from year to year, it may make more sense to plant based on something other than the calendar date. An old adage says that it is time to plant peas when the lilac leaves are the size of a mouse's ear. This may sound quaint, but it turns out that the growth cycle of the lilac (Syringa) is an excellent indicator of temperature. Phenology is the science concerned with the timing of specific biological events, and lilac is among the plants often studied. Project BudBurst has additional information about phenology and climate change. The U.S. National Phenology Network is also a good resource.

If you don't have a lilac in your garden (or a mouse's ear, for that matter), Washington State University Extension says that a safe time for planting peas is usually mid-March, not so much because of soil temperature, but because in February the soil is often oversaturated, and your peas would rot in the ground.

Season All Season
Date 2011-03-18
Link to this record only (permalink)


Keywords: Plant phenology, Leaves, Trees

PAL Question:

Can you direct me to a list of deciduous trees whose leaves generally emerge in early spring, or a list of trees ranked in order of their leaf emergence? I know this will vary from year to year and from individual tree to individual tree due to climate and genes, but if there is a list out there with a general sequenced time schedule, it would be a great tool for design.

View Answer:

An early American observer of the varying timing of leaf emergence was Henry David Thoreau, whose journals list leaf-out dates for the trees and shrubs he saw in Massachusetts in 1854. In fact, his data is now being used in climate change research. Though it's a subject that hasn't been much approached from a garden design standpoint, the increased interest in climate change means that more research on phenology and the leafing out sequence is becoming available. See the following article, "Turning Over New Leaves" by Richard Primack in the Arnold Arboretum newsletter. Primack (of Boston University) is the author of many articles on this topic. Primack and Caroline Polgar co-authored "Leaf-out phenology of temperate woody plants: from trees to ecosystems" (New Phytologist, Volume 191, Issue 4, pages 926941, September 2011) which states that "maples (Acer spp.), birches, alders (Alnus spp.), and poplars" tend to leaf out earlier, while "oaks, ashes (Fraxinus spp.), and hickories (Carya spp.)" are among the later-leafing trees.

The article "Why Do Temperate Deciduous Trees Leaf Out at Different Times? Adaptation and Ecology of Forest Communities," (The American Naturalist December 1984, Martin J. Lechowicz) has a chart (p. 825) showing the tree species the author studied leafing out in this order:

  • Acer rubrum
  • Populus tremuloides
  • Betula papyrifera
  • Sorbus americana
  • Acer saccharinum
  • Betula alleghaniensis
  • Ulmus americana
  • Tilia americana
  • Quercus macrocarpa
  • Fraxinus pennsylvanica
  • Populus grandidentata
  • Fraxinus nigra

Another chart on the same page compares 1980 and 1981 leafout dates, with Populus tremuloides and P. balsamifera and Betula species consistently leafing early, followed by Acer and Prunus, then Fagus and Populus grandidentata, then Fraxinus and Tilia, and finally Carya and Juglans.

Another resource that may help you determine the leaf-out date of specific trees is The Botanical Garden: volume 1: Trees & Shrubs by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix (Firefly, 2002). The book presents photos of branch samples from many tree species, often showing the young leaves associated with a date (though not with the geographical location; bear in mind that the authors reside in England). While it doesn't have such a photo for every tree, it might have enough trees for you to get useful data.

Season All Season
Date 2013-10-31
Link to this record only (permalink)


 

Didn't find an answer to your question? Ask us directly!

Browse keywords or Search Again:

We are continually adding new questions, so be sure to keep coming back.

June 24 2013 12:55:25