Saturday, February 20, 2010

Killingan Coppice: 20 February 2010

Despite the cold and snow with continuing hard frosts overnight, there are many signs of spring in the coppice.

Bluebells are sending their small pointed shoots through the leaves.

Ellie Killingan SouthView 006 As are the fat shiny rolls of cuckoopint (Arum maculatum) leaves.

Ellie Killingan SouthView 004I even found a primrose (Primula vulgaris) in flower.

Ellie Killingan SouthView 020It all makes me wonder if the phenologists are wasting their time.  Here, after the hardest winter in years, many plants are, unsurprisingly, not as advanced as normal.  Snowdrops are still struggling into flower and hazel catkins at the beginning of their season.  Other plants though scarcely seem to have been held back, although I suspect the primrose above may have a bit of exotic blood from a garden Polyanthus which may affect its performance.  It certainly is not typical - just an early flowering form and to use it statistically would, in my view, be somewhat dishonest. 

Proper phenology should be done by monitoring the same individual plants season by season, but even this would, I reckon, prove very little about climate change.  As it is people expend much effort looking for the 'first'  this or that of the season without acknowledging that most  plant species produce individuals that are somewhat ahead of the game.

In the case of the hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) there are two native British species one of which flowers about two weeks before the other and many derived from exotic seed that may have strange foreign habits when they are mature.  Phenology recorders are not asked, so far as I know, to differentiate.

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