Every year since 2017, volunteers throughout Vermont have reported the life stages (or "phenophases") of invasive plants during a specific week each month of the growing season for the Statewide Invasive Plant Phenology Monitoring Project (SIPPMoP). This monthly addition to people’s normal routine, while walking the dog, exploring the woods and trails, or otherwise out and about, provides valuable data that would otherwise be uncollected. This record of invasive plant phenology reaches land managers, homeowners, and communities across the state, and can be used to inform more immediate treatment planning and adds to the longer record that tracks changes over time and with climate change.
Participation in SIPPMoP is intended to be fun and low stress; you do not always have to take your observations from the same location, and you don't have to participate every month. Photos are welcome but not required.
2023 Observation periods
- Initial Growth (herbaceous plants only)
Herbaceous: New growth of the plant is visible after a period of no growth (winter or drought), either from above-ground buds with green tips, or new green or white shoots breaking through the soil surface. Growth is considered "initial" on each bud or shoot until the first leaf has fully unfolded. For seedlings, "initial" growth includes the presence of the one or two small, round or elongated leaves (cotyledons) before the first true leaf has unfolded.
Herbaceous: One or more live, fully unfolded leaves are visible on the plant. For seedlings, consider only true leaves and do not count the one or two small, round or elongated leaves (cotyledons) that are found on the stem almost immediately after the seedling germinates. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves.
Woody: One or more live, unfolded leaves are visible on the plant. A leaf is considered "unfolded" once its entire length has emerged from a breaking bud, stem node or growing stem tip, so that the leaf stalk (petiole) or leaf base is visible at its point of attachment to the stem. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves.
- Colored Leaves (woody plants only)
Woody: One or more leaves show some of their typical late-season color, or yellow or brown due to drought or other stresses. Do not include small spots of color due to minor leaf damage, or dieback on branches that have broken. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves that remain on the plant.
- Falling Leaves (woody plants only)
Woody: One or more leaves with typical late-season color, or yellow or brown due to other stresses, are falling or have recently fallen from the plant. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves that remain on the plant for many days before falling.
- Flowers/Flower Buds
Herbaceous and Woody: One or more fresh open or unopened flowers or flower buds are visible on the plant. Include flower buds or inflorescences that are swelling or expanding, but do not include those that are tightly closed and not actively growing (dormant). Also do not include wilted or dried flowers.
- Open Flowers
Herbaceous and Woody: One or more open, fresh flowers are visible on the plant. Flowers are considered "open" when the reproductive parts (male stamens or female pistils) are visible between or within unfolded or open flower parts (petals, floral tubes or sepals). Do not include wilted or dried flowers.
- Pollen Release & a special note on phragmites flowers
Special Note on Phragmites flowers: Flower clusters are typically purplish and soft-looking when young, and white or light brown and dryer-appearing when mature.
Pollen Release: One or more flowers on the plant release visible pollen grains when gently shaken or blown into your palm or onto a dark surface.
- Fruit/Unripe Fruit
Herbaceous and Woody: One or more fruits are visible on the plant. Species-specific descriptions available on the National Phenology Network website.
- Ripe Fruit
Herbaceous and Woody: One or more ripe fruits are visible on the plant. Species-specific descriptions available on the National Phenology Network website.
- Recent Fruit or Seed Drop
Herbaceous and Woody: One or more mature fruits or seeds have dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit. Do not include obviously immature fruits that have dropped before ripening, such as in a heavy rain or wind, or empty fruits that had long ago dropped all of their seeds but remained on the plant.
- Evidence of Prior Infestation
Herbaceous and Woody: Dead stalks and/or dormant plants indicate that, while there is no growth occurring at the time of observation, there will likely be growth occurring in the future.
Insect and disease report
Click here to access past Insect and Disease Reports and see SIPPMoP data in action
Community Blog & Monthly Phenology Friends Call
Check out the Community Blog for photos and stories about your great work for the Vermont Invasive Plant Phenology Project (VIPPP) and the Statewide Invasive Plant Phenology Monitoring Project (SIPPMoP), which are part of the Vermont Invasives Phenology Network (VIPN); we'll share phenophase updates, reminders of our monthly Phenology Friends Zoom chats, heads up when new podcast episodes drop, and news of the moment related to invasive plants.