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Analyzing shifts in plant flowering times (flowering phenology) in response to changing climate is
crucial to understanding the impacts of climate change on plants. Herbaria contain the physical
record of reproductive events from past seasons, making them an important source of long-term
data for studies of phenology. We measured changes in flowering phenology of four Oklahoma
native plants in the Asteraceae (sunflower) family: Grindelia ciliata, Liatris punctata, Ratibida
columnifera, and Vernonia baldwinii. These species were selected to represent the morphological and
phylogenetic diversity of the Asteraceae in Oklahoma and were represented in the Robert Bebb
Herbarium (OKL) with over 100 specimens each. We created novel protocols for scoring the
flowering phenology of these species into numeric categories, called phenophases. We looked for
correlations between the collection date and both the year of collection and the temperature in
that year. There was a significant relationship between collection date and year only in peak
flowering specimens of G. ciliata. There was a significant relationship between statewide annual
temperature and collection date only in peak flowering specimens of V. baldwinii. There was a
significant relationship between the annual temperature of the climate division of the state where
the plants were collected and collection date for peak flowering in G. ciliata, R. columnifera, and V.
baldwinii, for first flowers in V. baldwinii, and for last flowers in L. punctata. More precise
temperature data thus lead to an improvement of the model, but in all cases temperature or year
explained relatively little of the total variation in flowering time.
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Articles (c) The Authors
Journal compilation (c) Oklahoma Native Plant Society
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