Nature’s Notebook

Connecting People with Nature to Benefit Our Changing Planet

You are here

Common Lilacs

Cloned Plants Program logo

Your observations of common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) can enhance the decades of lilac phenology observations that have been collected across the United States. Comparing the phenology of these species with that of cloned plants enhances our understanding of genetic and environmental influences on the plants. Observations of the common and cloned species at the same location are especially valuable for and untangling these mysteries. See what volunteers' observations of common lilacs are revealing.

Tracking a common lilac is easy - you can observe a plant that is already thriving in your yard.

SPRINGCASTING! 

This spring, you will receive predictions of when your common lilac will leaf-out and flower, an effort we call springcasting. We will send you two emails this spring - one alerting you that your lilac should be leafing out in the next three days, and one alerting you that your lilac should bloom. Check your lilacs to see if the prediction is correct as soon after these emails as you can, and report your observations in Nature's Notebook.  

These predictions will help you to more accurately capture the start of leafing and flowering on your lilacs. 

Learn more about springcasting »

How to participate...

 1. Select your plants. Identify one or more common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) plants at your site.

2. Join Nature's Notebook. If you haven't already, create a Nature's Notebook account. See our specifics of observing if you need more details on getting started.

3. Sign up to receive our common lilac campaign messaging (in the right sidebar of this page - you may need to scroll back up to see it). You will receive messages approximately every 4-6 weeks during the growing season, providing early results, encouragement, observation tips, interesting links, and campaign-specific opportunities. Don't miss out!

4. Observe your plant(s). Report what you see (yes/no/not sure) on your plant periodically following the instructions for common lilacs. We encourage you to observe your plant(s) 2-4 times a week, especially in the spring, when things are changing rapidly. However, we welcome any observations you can contribute.

5. Report your observations. Periodically log into your Nature's Notebook account and transfer your observations from your paper data sheet into the online reporting system. Alternatively, you can enter your observations directly using our Android or iPhone smartphone and tablet apps.


2017 Results from the Common Lilac Campaign

In 2017, you reported leafing for common lilacs at 187 sites and flowering at 94 sites. 

How do your reports of leafing and flowering compare to previous years? You reported breaking leaf buds for common lilacs several weeks earlier in 2017 than in 2016. Cloned and common lilac breaking leaf buds 2016-17

 

We see a similar pattern with your reports of flowering, which were several weeks earlier in 2017 than in 2016.  Cloned and common lilac flowering 2016-17

 

How do your reports compare to our predictions of leafing and flowering from the Spring Indices

Our predictions and your reports are not far off! On average, you reported leafing of common lilacs only 1.06 days earlier than we predicted it would occur and flowering only 3.14 days earlier than we predicted. 

For common lilacs, you reported leafing for 33% of your lilacs and flowering for 58% of your lilacs within 1 week of our predicted date. 

Common lilacs vs Lilac Index 2017

Our predictions for leafing and flowering tended to be earlier than your reports in Southeast states and in the upper Northeast, and later than your reports in middle states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Your data on cloned and common lilacs help us to understand how well our Spring Index models reflect plant activity on the ground. These results will help us to create more accurate predictions of the arrival of spring. 

Share this content.