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Kim Parsons Research Assistant MUN Botanical Garden What is PlantWatch? PlantWatch is part of the NatureWatch series. It is a volunteer monitoring program to help identify ecological changes that may be affecting our environment. What is PlantWatch?

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Kim Parsons Research Assistant MUN Botanical Garden

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Presentation Transcript

Kim Parsons

Research Assistant

MUN Botanical Garden

What is PlantWatch?

  • PlantWatch is part of the NatureWatch series.

  • It is a volunteer monitoring program to help identify ecological changes that may be affecting our environment.

What is PlantWatch?

  • PlantWatch is a joint initiative between Nature Canada and Environment Canada’s Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN).

  • PlantWatch partners include representatives from each province and territory.

What is PlantWatch?

  • PlantWatch is a national phenology study.

  • Phenology is the study of important events in the lives of plants and animals.

  • For PlantWatch this is when a plant flowers as the weather warms in the spring.

What is PlantWatch?

  • The goal of PlantWatch is to encourage Canadians to help scientists find out how our natural environment is changing due to changes in climate.

  • We can get involved with this project by recording flowering times for selected plant species and reporting data.

Why watch plants?

  • By watching plants you can learn about Canada’s botanical diversity and help scientists track the effects of global warming and climate change.

  • Plants are measuring sticks for climate change.

Climate Change

  • Globally the earth’s temperature has risen 1oC.

  • Predicted temperature increase of 3-4oC in the Atlantic Provinces.

  • Winter freeze-thaw events becoming more frequent.

  • Precipitation (including snowfall) is expected to increase.

Why watch plants?

  • The plants chosen for PlantWatch bloom in the spring as they accumulate heat (when the temperature rises).

  • Some of the species are flowering a month earlier than they were a century ago.

Why watch plants?

  • Reporting on PlantWatch species in your community can help researchers discover how the climate is changing.

  • Any contribution you can make is important.

How to get involved

  • Climate is changing and we need to monitor these changes.

  • We need more PlantWatchers in Newfoundland and Labrador!

  • Anyone can become a PlantWatch participant!

  • It’s an excellent activity for families, classrooms and outdoor groups.

How to PlantWatch

  • Choose your plants

  • Use the PlantWatch website ( or the PlantWatch guide to find out what plants are being watched in your area.

  • Be sure to select plants that you can observe everyday.

How to PlantWatch

2. Select your site

  • Choose plants growing in an easy to access, flat area.

  • Avoid sites with unusual temperature or light conditions.

How to PlantWatch

3. Mark your territory

  • Mark the plant (or patch of plants) with a tag.

How to PlantWatch

4. Watch your plants

  • Read the species’ descriptions on the PlantWatch website or in the guide to help you recognize “first bloom” and “mid bloom” and “leaf out”.

  • Record the dates for each.

How to PlantWatch

5. Submit your observations

  • Submit observations directly on the website.


  • Mail the data sheet to the PlantWatch Coordinator for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Species selected for

Newfoundland and Labrador












Red Maple








  • It is a low, erect woodland plant

    (10 cm tall), that grows in colonies.

    Leaves and twigs:

  • Smooth edged, oval leaves with parallel veins.

  • Four to six leaves form a ring around the stem.

    Flowers and fruit:

  • Each plant has a single cluster with four showy bracts that look like petals.

  • In the center are tiny flowers that are green or purple or cream in color.

  • The fruit are red berries.



  • A forest plant, crackerberry tolerates a variety of soil conditions.

  • When the flowers are open, black central dots are visible (stigmas).

  • First Bloom: when the first flowers are open.

  • Mid bloom: when 50% of flowers are open in observed plants.




  • Common plant, 5-40 cm tall. Introduced from Europe.

    Leaves and twigs:

  • Deeply toothed leaves grow from the base of the plant.

  • Leaves appear before flowers.

R. Hopkins


Flowers and fruit:

  • Flower heads are yellow and the flower stem is hollow and leafless.

  • After full bloom, white, fluffy, round balls of seeds appear. The parachuted seeds are blown away by the wind.

  • Main flowering is in spring, but scattered blooms continue all summer.

  • Note: flowers close at night and on cloudy days.

R. Hopkins



  • Dandelions grow almost anywhere, but are common in wastelands and cultivated areas.


  • Make sure your patch is not mowed until your bloom observations are made.

  • Choose plants at least 10 m away from buildings.

  • First Bloom: when first flowers are open.

  • Mid bloom: When the first seed-head opens, forming a white, fluffy ball of seeds.

R. Hopkins

Labrador Tea

Labrador Tea

  • General:

  • Erect evergreen shrub, up to 1 m tall

  • Leaves and twigs:

  • Leathery, narrow, oblong leaves (2-5 cm

  • Long) with matted hairs on the underside.

  • The edges of the leaves roll under to

  • help retain moisture.

  • Twigs are densely covered with hairs.

Labrador Tea

  • Flowers and fruit:

  • Five-petalled, white flowers, occur in rounded clusters at the branch tips.

  • Habitat:

  • Shade-intolerant and often found on moist to wet soils.

  • Common on open peatland dominated by sphagnum moss and in open-canopy coniferous forests.

Labrador Tea


  • Select a typical patch of plants, if the plants are very abundant, mark off a l-metre-square section to observe.

  • First bloom: when the first flowers are open in the observed plants (3 places).

  • Mid bloom: when 50% of the flowers are open in the observed plants.


R. Hopkins



  • Medium-sized coniferous tree; grows up to 20 m tall, with scaly bark.

  • In the fall, the needles turn yellow and drop.

    Leaves and twigs:

  • The long, slender branches have small woody stumps that produce the needle bundles.

  • Needles, 1-2.5 cm long, emerge as soft green tufts during spring growth. Each tuft can have 10-20 needles.

R. Hopkins


Flowers and fruit:

  • Male and female cones can appear on the same branch.

  • Male cones: small mounds of yellow-brown pollen sacs that fall after shedding pollen

  • Female cones: pinkish-purple mini-cones about 1 cm long.

  • Note: Observe male cones only for PlantWatch.



  • Grows in moist to wet areas.

  • First Bloom: when first pollen is being shed by the male cones (3 places).

  • Mid bloom: When 50% of the male cones are shedding pollen.

  • Leaf out: When the tufts of the needles are lengthening and starting to spread open at the tip ( 3 places).

Red Maple

Red Maple


  • Deciduous tree with grey bark. Flowers appear before leaves.

    Leaves and twigs:

  • Twigs are slender, shiny and dark red with whitish dots.

  • Leaf buds are rounded, dark red-wine in colour.

  • Leaves are red-tinged in the spring, green in summer and bright red in the fall.

Red Maple

Flowers and fruit:

  • Flowers emerge from dark red buds in the spring.

  • Male and female flowers usually grow on different branches of the same tree.

  • Female flowers are red while male flowers are yellowish green.

  • Note: only observe male flowers for plant watch.

Red Maple


  • Trees are usually found in swamps and moist soils.

  • Moderately shade tolerant and they also grow in dry areas.

  • First Bloom: when the first male flowers are open (3 places).

  • Mid bloom: when 50% of flowers are open.

  • Leafing: when the first leaves push out of the bud and unfold completely (3 places)

NL PlantWatch Observation Form

Kimberley Parsons


33 Lakeside Drive, Deer Lake NL.

A0K 2E0

(709) 737-3585

NL PlantWatch Observation Form

Route 430 N

NW of Deer Lake

49o 10’; 57o26’

NW of Route 430/TCH

NL PlantWatch Observation Form

May 6

May 12

1, 5W, 7, 12, 19

May 26

June 3

2, 5SW, 7, 11, 16

May 20

May 26

June 6

1, 5NW, 7, 10, 16

June 10

June 24

2, 6NW ,7, 11, 16

Thank you PlantWatchers!

  • Any Questions?

  • Please take PlantWatch package (forms, newsletters and guides) on your way out.

  • Don’t forget to visit the websites and

Is spring coming early this year?

Help us find out!


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