In 2009, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) helped promote the nationwide citizen-science initiative, Project BudBurst
For the first time, we linked the data collected here in
Arkansas with national data. Just as the name implies, Project BudBurst was designed to collect data from the public on the first appearances of
buds, leaves, seeds, and fruits in everything from trees to weeds.
ANHC is no longer participating in this citizen-science project, but you still can! Visit Project BudBurst
information on how to register, plant identification guides, and
educational resources. Data can either be entered directly online or on a
The science involved is known as “phenology,” an ancient study that
measures the timing of the life-cycle events of all animals and plants.
Observations of phenological events have provided indications of the
progress of the natural calendar since ancient agricultural times.
Records of grape harvests in Europe have been used to reconstruct a
record of summer growing season temperatures going back more than 500
years. Many cultures have traditional phenological proverbs and sayings
which indicate a time for action: "If oak's before ash, you're in for a
splash. If ash before oak, you're in for a soak.”
records have scientific value for understanding the interactions
between organisms and their environment and for assessing the impacts of
climate change. They also record the consequences of environmental
variability and change vital to the public interest. Events such as the
beginning of the growing season can vary by three weeks or more from
year to year. Such variations have important environmental and
socio-economic implications for health (allergens and infectious
diseases), recreation (fall colors and wildflower displays), agriculture
(planting and harvest times, pest control), and management of natural
resources (water and timber) and hazards (monitoring and prediction of
drought and fire risk).
With recent evidence of global warming, phenological data have assumed a
special role over the past decade as an independent measure of the
impacts of climate change on the biosphere. The flowers and plants in
your own backyard or neighborhood park also have a role in this global
drama. Like other ANHC citizen-science projects, anyone can participate.
Participants simply choose a plant or plants to observe from a list of
widespread, easy to identify trees, shrubs, wildflowers, ornamentals and
Plants from the Project BudBurst monitoring list that occur in Arkansas
are listed below - click on each link to learn more about that plant.
Native Trees and Shrubs
Eastern red cedar
Native herbaceous plants
Eastern red columbine
Pink evening primrose
Purple passion flower
Project BudBurst is operated by the University Corporation for
Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and a team of partners including the U.S.
Geological Survey and the USA National Phenology Network. The project is
funded in part with a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and
the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and is also supported by the
National Science Foundation.