You may not have to wait for April showers to bring May flowers. A recent scientific study has found that the recent record warm temperatures are contributing to the earliest spring flowers in American history.
Specifically, the study compared data from over 160 years ago and found that several species of flowers bloomed at least 3 weeks earlier than ever before during the record warm springs in 2010 and 2012.
Among others, the pink lady’s slipper orchid (pictured right) is one of these early blooming flowers. Researchers found that for every degree of Fahrenheit the temperature increases, flowers would bloom approximately 2.3 days earlier. Looking at the historical data, there has been a pattern for flowers to bloom earlier, as the climate warms. Researchers are suggesting this is evidence that the plants are adapting to climate change.
For now, the plants are flowering without any major issues. Some plants might even benefit from the longer growing season. However, the trend is worrisome for some scientists. The early blooming times will have implications for other organisms in the ecosystem. For instance, pollination and reproduction could be affected. Early blooming and a late spring frost could destroy the flower buds before the bees and birds have a chance to pollinate the plant.
At this time, the full impact is still unknown and requires further research. It is important that we keep an eye on the effects of climate change or the ecosystem as we know it could fail.
The full research article can be read here: PLOSone.org