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The time of year when a flower blooms is influenced by many factors, including genetics, weather, and pollinators. But climate change is causing bloom times to happen earlier across ecosystems. According to several Boston-area scientists and curators at the Arnold Arboretum, over the past hundred years the temperature has risen 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit in the city. This is not just making the city a hotter place for people to live—it’s getting warmer for the plants, too.
Abraham J. Miller-Rushing and a team of four researchers at the arboretum wanted to determine if the city’s increasing temperatures were affecting flowering times. As they note, “The most convincing evidence that living organisms are responding to global warming comes from flowering plants, which are especially responsive to warm weather in the spring.”
The team used the arboretum’s extensive collection of herbarium specimens, which include dried flowers and harvest records alongside their living specimens, to analyze the effects of climate change on plants in Boston.