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Mar 27

Plant Journaling and Budburst

Posted on March 27, 2020 at 8:17 AM by Chris Towe

This is the second activity in our virtual plant lesson series. Check our facebook page for an introduction video on plants and leaves.

During the last activity we were looking at leaves. This time we’ll be looking at other parts of the plant, if they are there yet. We’ll be keeping an eye on the life cycle of the plant, as it develops things like leaves and flowers. The flowers might get pollinated and turn into a fruit with seeds. Those seeds might be spread by the wind, or by animals, or by the plant itself. Then the leaves might fall, if it’s a deciduous plant. And on and on and on...

For this activity, choose a plant you want to track over a period of time. It could be in your backyard, in a neighborhood green space, or one you can see from a window. What does the plant look like today? You'll have to pay close attention to different parts of the plant, like the leaves and the flowers/fruit or cones. It's early spring now, so some plants might not have leaves yet, while others might be in full bloom (like the red flowering currant below).
IMG_1670
You'll be doing one observation today, but you can also visit the plant regularly over the year to keep an eye on its growth. You have to be ready to record milestones like its first leaf, when flowers open, when the fruits ripen, and when the leaves start to fall. After a few seasons, you'll have all the major milestones recorded for your plant, and you can compare it from year to year. Check out the Budburst project if you want to record your observations into this national database, and join scientists around the country tracking plants, like the lupine species below.  IMG_1673

Visiting the plant regularly gives you a nice spot to do some journaling, writing down your observations, your thoughts and ideas, and anything else that comes to mind! A few questions to leave you with:
  1. What might affect the time your plant develops leaves and flowers? 
  2. Who/what might depend on the timing of the plant's flowers? 
  3. Picture your plant in 3 months - what does it look like? 6 months? 5 years?