Mild Weather Won’t Trick Native Trees and Plants (250)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A few days of warm weather may convince some Tennessee residents spring has arrived, but native plants and trees know better, a University of Tennessee professor said Thursday.

 “Native plants and trees are almost impossible to trick,” said Dr. Don Williams. “They are well adapted to our climate.”

 Williams, professor of ornamental horticulture, said native trees and plants judge spring’s arrival by several measures — the lengthening of the days, warming temperatures and sunshine.

 “They don’t follow the same schedule every year,” Williams said. “If they did, we would see the dogwoods bloom the same time every year, and we know they don’t.”

 Native species may be running a little behind schedule this year due to cloudy, overcast skies, Williams said.

 “If we had a few more days of sunshine this month, things might look quite a bit different than they do now,” Williams said.

 Bradford pears are starting to bud and daffodils are blooming in some areas, but Williams said those species usually flower early.

 Non-native species, such as the Japanese magnolia, have more trouble adjusting to the area’s weather, Williams said. “We will almost always have one or two frosts after the Japanese magnolia starts blooming,” Williams said.

 Williams said it will be several more weeks before he is ready to predict when the dogwoods will bloom.

 “I haven’t seen anything yet to indicate that they will be early,” Williams said. “Some people may say they will be early because we have had a mild winter, but winters in Tennessee usually are mild.”

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 Contact: Dr. Don Williams (423-974-7324)