|Rhodora in bloom in Acadia National Park June 4, 2011|
I am preparing for my third field season in Maine this spring & summer. Thoreau famously visited Maine in the 1840s and climbed Mt Katahdin. My research is focused on another iconic Maine location — Mount Desert Island — but follows Thoreau’s example as a study of the abundance and flowering phenology of the local flora. As in Concord, we hope to trace changes in the Acadia flora through historical records including herbaria specimens, photographs, field notes, and published flora. In fact, one of the botanists who contributed to the 1894 Flora of Mount Desert Island, ME was a woman named Annie Sawyer Downs. Annie summered on the island in the late nineteenth century, but she grew up in Concord, MA where she spent her childhood botanizing — sometimes rambling into the woods with Thoreau himself. After two seasons of searching through archives, transcribing historical data, and digitizing herbarium specimens, I am looking forward to getting outside for my own flowering phenology monitoring. Hopefully, I will be able to record dates of flowering in Acadia for many of the species studied by Annie in the 1890s, and a few recorded by Thoreau in Concord.