Pesky Plant Trackers badge, plants and text

Pesky Plant Trackers is a citizen science opportunity focused on wild parsnip and knotweed. 


What are folks seeing now?

In some places, plants have entered the "Flowers or flower buds" phenophase. At other sites, flowers have yet to appear.

What you see depends on where you observe. Although this makes it difficult to predict exactly what you will see when, it reinforces how important your observations are. Pesky Plants research is improved by having observers in a variety of locations. Your observations matter!

Wild parsnip - closed flower buds
Photo by volunteer Sue Fehr. Closed flower buds on wild parsnip. June 1, 2021
Wild parsnip photo by Bill Bronder
Wild parsnip in the 'Flowers or flower buds' phenophase. Flowers are not yet open. Photo by volunteer observer Bill Bronder, May 31, 2021. Near Becker, Minnesota.
Wild parsnip, April 7, 2021, photo by Byju Govindan
Wild parsnip "leaves" phenophase (with unfolded leaves) on April 7, 2021 in St. Paul, MN. Photo by Byju Govindan
Wild parsnip initial growth. March 26, 2021 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo by Byju Govindan.
Dwarf Japanese knotweed - flower buds forming
First signs of flowers on dwarf Japanese knotweed plant. St. Paul, Minnesota, June 1, 2021
Japanese knotweed on April 8, 2021. Photo by Elizabeth Heeren.
Japanese knotweed "leaves" phenophase (unfolded leaf) on April 8, 2021. Photo by Elizabeth Heeren.
Japanese knotweed shoot (initial growth) on April 4, 2021. Photo by Elizabeth Heeren.

Checking for initial growth of knotweed

Checking for initial growth of knotweed
Photo by Ilene Krug Mojsilov

If possible, gently lift and then replace debris that could obstruct your view of shoots or early leaves. Materials such as dead leaves and other debris can play an important role for newly emerging plants by regulating their microclimate. Every site is slightly different so find a balance between detecting early signs of growth and leaving site conditions unchanged.

Spring Activities

Take the training: Learn how to volunteer by taking the self-paced course or attending the scheduled sessions.

Locate plants: Volunteering works best if wild parsnip or knotweed plants grow nearby, in a place that is accessible and convenient to you. If you're unsure if these plants can be found near you, check out these resources on locating wild parsnip or knotweed.

Observe plants: Begin observing plants when you are ready. (There is no point in the season when you are "too late.") Record what you see using Nature's Notebook.