Climate Change Observations in Botanic Gardens Around the Globe
2 March 2007
Early Bloom in Shanghai
Shanghai Botanic Garden reports that Sakuras and gardenias have bloomed 15 to 20 days ahead of their normal flowering season. This is the second time that such a report has come out the garden.
Precocious Cherries in Brooklyn Attract Extra Winter Visitors
In Japan, cherry blossoms are symbolic of life’s transitory nature. But according to the BBG, five of the garden’s 220-plus cherry trees Prunus Fudan-Zakura bloomed in January, thus earning their name 'the ever-blooming cherry'.
“The circumstances of weather,” created the unusual phenomenon of early blooming, said Patrick Cullina, the vice president of horticulture and facilities at BBG.
“Because it was persistently mild through December,” he noted, “it created a scenario where they have bloomed fully for the first time in anyone’s memory here.”
Another consequence, according to Cullina, is that those trees and plants that have already bloomed are unlikely to do so again this year, short of a few buds here and there that did not open this time around.
But, Cullina stressed that the early blossoming of five cherry trees, “No way inhibits the cherry mania that takes place here in spring.” Thanks to over 200 other cherry trees that have not blossomed early, “We are still anticipating an April display,” Cullina added.
New York Records Many Species Blooming Early
With weeks of abnormally warm weather, there are colorful surprises in flower at the New York Botanical Garden. In place of the barren or snow-covered landscapes commonly associated with January, snowdrops, witch-hazels, grape-holly, Dawn fragrant viburnum, camellias, winter honeysuckle, and Japanese apricot are all in flower.
Some are quite showy, including the lush rose-colored flowers of camellia 'Spring's Promise', the exuberant yellow sprays of grape-holly, and certain witch-hazels and viburnums. In addition, daffodils emerged from the ground and certain trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants came into leaf.
Some of the plants reported as flowering in January at the New York Botanical Garden were:
Experimental "Global Warming" Garden
Signs of spring are in many places across the New York Botanical Garden's 250 acres, but nowhere are they more in evidence than in the Garden's experimental Ladies Border on the southeast side of the landmark Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.
The border, dubbed the “global warming garden” by the staff, was designed and planted more than four years ago by Lynden B. Miller and others who wanted to test the hardiness of plants generally considered too tender to thrive this far north.
It features plants not typically found in the Garden's geographical zone and allows the Garden to test the hardiness of plants and to expand the wide diversity of its plant collections. Lynden Miller says that it is intended "to stretch people's imaginations" about what they can grow in this region.
Same Phenomenon Reported in Chicago
The Chicago Botanic Garden also reported that thanks to higher than normal temperatures, the crocus and the snowdrop arrived four months early.
Staff at the Chicago Botanic Garden have recorded blooms of plants every two weeks since 1997. Before this, snowdrops' earliest flowering came around March 1 in 1999, 2000 and last year they reported the earliest ever flowering - but this year its even earlier.
Kris Bachtell, head of collections at the Morton Arboretum, says there'll be no problem for native species like Oaks which have evolved for a wide ranging Midwest climate.
So What Do We Do About It?
Policymakers need to give more attention to adaptation policies to cope with climate-related impacts, regardless of their cause, argue Roger Pielke and colleagues in a recent article in Nature.
The authors say that unless adaptation strategies are given as much attention and investment as other policies promoted by the UNFCCC, the effects of climatic events on vulnerable societies will continue to rise no matter how much greenhouse gas emissions are cut.
More articles on this topic:
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Climate change is already happening and is predicted to get much worse. This page outlines the effects that climate change may have on plant communities, and thus the threats to the well-being of human societies that depend on them.
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