Pesky Plant Trackers - In Vermont!


Pesky Plant Trackers - In Vermont!

2023 Update

Now that the data are gathered (2020-2022), Pesky Plants researchers at University of Minnesota (UMN) continue the work of analyzing data, interpreting results, and publishing what they learn. Volunteers may continue using Nature's Notebook to collect data on "pesky" plant(s) and/or other species. Stopping is also an option. There is no need to declare your decision to project staff. Whatever you decide, thank you, stay safe and good luck! Pesky Plants is just one campaign within Nature's Notebook, a continent-wide "umbrella" project specializing in participatory phenology. 


Observers based in and around Vermont are welcomed to continue to provide data to this project, though formal communications from UMN and VT FPR have ceased. Any data collected will still be part of the National Phenology Network dataset, and useful to people across the country. Nature's Notebook stays available to you as a free resource, community of practice, and project hub. 

We also welcome you to check out our volunteer opportunities page to learn more about the active projects in Vermont's network, and how to get involved! 



The Pesky Plant Trackers Campaign was a community science opportunity focused on wild parsnip and knotweed. Successful management of these plants is linked to their life cycle events, or when they develop leaves, flowers, and fruits. Project participants are utilizing National Phenology Network's database and their online mapping tool, Nature's Notebook

We're helping track invasive plant phenology from the Midwest through the Northeast, and need your help!

Wait - what is "phenology" exactly? Phenology means studying the timing of recurring life cycle events in living things, in this case - plants!

Participation in this project is straight forward -- all you need is a Nature's Notebook account, a smart phone or computer, and the ability to regularly return to your plants to make observations.

                                                                     See results of this campaign from 2021

 Who is involved:

  • Amazing volunteers like you!
  • The National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) and researchers from the University of Minnesota (UMN) embarked on a data collection effort from 2020 through 2022. As the UMN researchers move into the analysis, interpretation, and dissemination phase of the project, support for volunteers is moving to USA-NPN, and for Vermont specific questions, your contacts are Elizabeth (she/her) & Lina (she/her), pictured below. We are part of the Invasive Plant Program at the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation (VT FPR), and look forward to working with you. Observers are still welcomed to provide valuable data to the project and to interact with USA-NPN and VT FPR staff.

two people stand close and smile


What is involved:
Time commitment:
  • The time spent observing will be minimal. So not including travel to where your plants are, expect to spend 2-5 minutes each time you observe. Observations will take place most likely April through October (this is dynamic based on what we are seeing for seasonal plant growth). 
  • Observations are recommended at least weekly during the growing season, but any observations you can contribute are welcome. 
Join us!

See below for the training needed to participate. The training is self-paced, and can be completed in one go, or piece meal. Overall, expect to spend 2-3 hours with the material and setting up your account. 


Not Sure yet? Learn more

Visit the Pesky Plant Tracker campaign page


Learn about the basics:

  • What does it mean to track a plant?
  • What makes these plants pesky?
  • Why track these plants?
  • How will volunteer observations be used?
  • How else are these plants being studied?


Review a step by step guide on how to participate:

  • Create an account
  • Select your plants
  • Sign up to the Campaign
  • Observe your plants
  • Report your observations


Take part

Access the training:

  • Learn how to
    • Identify wild parsnip and Japanese knotweed
    • Be safe around wild parsnip
    • Observe seasonal change in plants by inspecting leaves, flowers, and fruits
    • Share weekly observations using Nature's Notebook


Subscribe to the Pesky Plant Trackers newsletter through the National Phenology Network:


Find a Plant

  • As a volunteer, you will want to find wild parsnip and/or knotweed close to where you live, work, or regularly visit. Follow the link above to learn more about where to find these plants and read about the guidelines to follow if observing on public or private lands. 
  • Volunteering works best for people who have wild parsnip or Japanese knotweed growing nearby. Because you will observe an individual plant once a week, ideally from about March through about October, think of locations that are convenient


See the schedule of events below (Stay tuned!):

  • Tea Tuesdays are retiring after December 2022, but stay tuned for details of what's in store in 2023! Elizabeth and Lina are looking into creating an open hours drop in modeled after Tea Tuesdays for observers taking part in any of the invasive plant phenology projects run through VT FPR (being geolocated in VT not required!). 


Browse the historic Pesky Plant Trackers Campaign Community Blog:

  • Photos and stories from observers across the project
  • Seasonal tips and tricks
  • archive of past posts


Read the Pesky Plant Trackers - In Vermont! Blog:

  • Photos and stories from observers in Vermont
  • Vermont-based tips and tricks


Access useful links for taking part in the Pesky Plant Trackers Campaign:


Vermont Dept. Forests, Parks & Recreation would like to acknowledge the financial and technical support provided by the USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry that enables us to run projects and provide outreach such as this.

The Pesky Plant Trackers Campaign is a project by the University of Minnesota‚Äôs Department of Forest Resources. Collaborators include the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, USA-National Phenology Network, and Oregon State University. And now this list includes the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and VTinvasives.