Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A few observations before the break for the holidays

November 20, 2011, Berthoud Colorado (5030' elev., in a park lawn)

This month we continue to see how this weird weather is effecting our local plants. The latest weird thing was to see a new dandelion flower!! Not so unusual if you are in Alabama or Florida but for 5,030' elevation in Colorado in late November this is quite bizarre! We have been having plenty of frosty mornings, but very mild afternoons. Tomorrow will be in lower 60's for example. Apparently these well adapted plants have no problems with the morning frosts so are ready to put out new flowers and maybe made even more seeds in 2011!

A series of snow falls and hard frosts in late October and early this month have caused even the most hardy of our trees and shrubs to go dormant. The last ones were the oaks, some lilacs, shrubby cinquefoil, and the amazingly hardy european buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica). This is quite a troublesome invasive weed in moist forested regions back east and a few riparian areas in the West. It has always amazed me that the leaves can be supple and green even after numerous frosts and snowfalls. But even this shrub now has brown leaves.

Even in the dead of winter there are always interesting things to see. This month has mostly been a matter of seeing when the last leaves fall as they say. Still waiting for northern red oak to lose its leaves. That will be the last regular budburst species and should be my last budburst observation for 2011!

Please post your sightings and questions on the budburst facebook page.

Thanks to all of you that submitted observations this year, making it a great year for budburst! Don't forget to submit the last of your observations from this last year. Its easy to forget to submit observations onto the computer. Winter is a great time to catch up on that and make your observations a valuable resource for our program and for all scientists and educators that are interested in how nature is responding to all these changes over time.

I will be taking a break from this blog until the start of the new year. Looking forward to the start of a new season soon!

Happy holidays!

Paul Alaback


top: the last new flower of 2011 for Berthoud!
bottom: Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), one of the very last trees to lose its leaves this year. Red oak, and European mountain ash are the other main trees still with leaves around our neighborhood.

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