International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 158–168

Starting dates and basic temperatures in phenological observations of plants

  • F.-E. Wielgolaski

DOI: 10.1007/s004840050100

Cite this article as:
Wielgolaski, FE. Int J Biometeorol (1999) 42: 158. doi:10.1007/s004840050100


 Several methods have been used in plant phenology to find the best starting date in spring and the best threshold or basic temperature for growth and development of perennial plants. In the present paper the date giving the highest correlation coefficient for development to various phenophases, in relation to 24-hourly mean air temperatures was chosen as the best starting value in further analyses. For many woody plants this date was very often found to be 1 April based on phenological and climatological observations at about 60 sites in western Norway (at about 61°N). The early flowering species Corylus avellana and Salix caprea and the early leaf-bud breaking Prunus padus seemed to start development earlier in Spring, while the late sprouting Fraxinus excelsior showed the highest correlation coefficient using 15 April. If daytime temperatures were used in the calculations, the ”best” starting date was generally found to be later than for the 24-hour mean temperatures. This variation must be seen as resulting from the different basic temperatures for the development of various species. Estimates of basic temperatures in various species and periods may be given, for example by finding the value having the least variance in heat sums or by various regression analyses. A technique has been developed to minimise the influence of significance of correlation, using the intercept with the temperature axis by merging the two least squares rectilinear regression lines that can be found between plant development and mean air temperature (from the estimated best starting date) at r=+1 or –1. The basic temperature seemed to vary from –5.9°C for leaf-bud break of P. padus to 5.5°C for leaf-bud break of F. excelsior, with basic temperatures of several other woody plants having intermediate values. These values are compared with those found by other methods.

Key words Phenology Starting date Threshold temperature Basic temperature Woody plants 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • F.-E. Wielgolaski
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Division of Botany and Plant Physiology, University of Oslo, P.O.Box 1045 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, NorwayNO