Fast Forwarding Spring

By Susan Littlefield

This year across the eastern U.S. the winter has been mild and spring conditions are arriving early. Many trees and grasses are flowering two to three weeks ahead of schedule. The winter-weary among us may relish the unexpected warmth. But according to Dr. Donald Leopold, chair of the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY, as quoted in an article on the Science Daily website, ″When the weather is really altered from typical conditions, there are always winners and losers among all types of both plants and animals.″

Who might the losers be? Allergy sufferers for one. Many spring blooming trees, such as willows, maples, aspens, elms, and poplars, and grasses are several weeks ahead of their normal schedule, which portends a longer and more intense allergy season. (Pictured are red maple flowers already in bloom in Vermont.)

Another concern is what can happen if the warmth doesn't last. If a spell of seasonably cold weather returns, the over-eager flowers on fruit and other trees may be damaged or killed, with the consequent loss of the fruits that would have followed. Apple and other fruit growers are nervously awaiting what temperature fluctuations are in store. But the impact extends to wildlife as well, if the fruits of trees they depend on for food fail to develop.

To read more about warm weather and plants on fast forward, go to: Science Daily.

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