Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: I don't know much about plants. Where do I begin?

A: We recommend you find a plant that is in a convenient place for you, such as a street tree on the block where you live, a plant in your yard, at your workplace, schoolyard or in a nearby park.

Once you've located your plant, you'll need to identify it. The "I need help identifying my plant!" section below provides tips for how to find help with idenfitication.

Q: I need help identifying my plant!

A: Consult a plant field guide for your area OR take pictures of your plant (if possible, of the leaves, flowers, fruits, and/or bark (you won't always be able to see all of these features)

Then, bring or email your pictures to your local plant experts such as staff at a plant nursery, a local biology teacher, an Extension expert or botanical/native plant society for your state and ask them for help with identification.

Still stuck? Email your photos and the City and State your plants are located in to and we will try to put you in touch with someone who can help.

Q: I've identified my plant and am ready to make observations!

A: Use the Search Tool on the Plants to Observe page to see if your plant is in our database.

If it is, you can download custom Regular or Single Report forms from your plant's resource page. If it's not, you can download generic Regular or Single Report forms.

Q: Help! I couldn't find my plant on your list. How do I to enter "other" plants?

A: Although we prefer that people make observations of the plants from our list, we recognize that not everyone has access to plants from our Master List.

We support observations of any plant species that is of interest to you. You can use our plain Project BudBurst Regular Report or Single Report forms to record observations about plants not on the Project BudBurst Master Plant List.

When you're ready to report your observations on the website, follow the usual steps for reporting Regular Reports or Single Reports and choose "Other" from the bottom of the species dropdown lists.

Q: What are native, non-native, and invasive plants?

A: All plants respond in some way to changing environments and for that reason, Project BudBurst is interested in collecting data on all kinds of plants, including native, non-native, and invasive species. You can report observations for all of these types of plants through Project BudBurst.

Wondering what all of these terms mean? We've included definitions below:

Native: A commonly accepted definition for native plant is any plant species that was present in the area prior to European colonization. Examples: Southern magnolia, Red maple, and California poppy.

Non-native plant: A plant that was introduced after European colonization. A common example of a non-native plant is the Common lilac. Non-native plants are not, by default, invasive plants. Sometimes non-native plants are called exotics. Examples: Common lilac, Alfalfa, and Apple trees.

Invasive plant: A plant that was introduced after European colonization and is adversely affecting the new area either ecologically, economically, or as it relates to human health. Examples: Kudzu, Cheatgrass, and Purple loosestrife

Q: What are cultivars?

A: A cultivar (cultivated variety) is a plant selected for specific characteristics and maintained through propagation. Cultivars can be developed through plant breeding programs or can be selections of a wild variety.

Red maple trees provide a great example of cultivars. The "native" red maple tree, Acer rubra, has been grown and selected so it now includes many types of cultivars, such as 'Autumn Blaze', 'Red Sunset', 'Burgundy Bell' and more. Each of these cultivars have different characteristics and may behave a little differently in their phenology. We are interested in these differences.

Do you have a cultivar of a Project BudBurst species that you'd like to monitor? Great! If you know the name of the cultivar, we encourage you to enter it in the "Additional Comments" box when you go to report an observation of that species. For example, if you have are monitoring a Red maple tree and you know the cultivar is 'Autumn Blaze', type 'Autumn Blaze' into the Additional Comments box. If you know you have a Red maple but aren't sure which cultivar it is, just select Red maple from the dropdown box for your observation.