Improve invasive plant management using climate based phenology models

close up photograph of wild parsnip flower head

Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)


Plant phenology is the study of plant life cycle events. Understanding phenology is important for predicting the annual timing of key plant growth stages like flowering or seed development, which are controlled by environmental factors like temperature and sunlight availability.

Currently, management activities tend to use calendar days for predicting phenology and timing of management. However, phenology is strongly regulated by temperature. Thus, scheduling management using temperature-based predictions of phenology could be more effective. 

The goal of this research is to develop better information on the timing of life cycle events and how they relate to temperature on two priority invasive species: wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) and Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum). With the help of citizen scientists, researchers are creating publicly available phenology maps for wild parsnip and Japanese knotweed.

Research questions

  • How do temperature and photoperiod affect the phenologies of wild parsnip and Japanese knotweed in Minnesota?
  • When are important phenological events for wild parsnip and Japanese knotweed likely to occur in different parts of Minnesota?

Practical implications

Phenology models will help land managers understand the developmental timeline of destructive invasive weeds like Japanese knotweed and wild parsnip in their non-native, Minnesota environment. Ultimately, this information will help match biology to treatment to improve management outcomes. MITPPC partners and stakeholders will be able to use an online tool to get predictions of the expected dates when wild parsnip and Japanese knotweed will reach key stages for effective control.


News and media



Header image credit: "Wild parsnip (poisonous)" by Charlie Day is licensed under CC-BY-ND 2.0

Research team

Rebecca Montgomery | Forest Resources, CFANS | principal investigator

Stephan Carlson | Forest Resources, CFANS | co-principal investigator

Abbie Anderson | Forest Resources, CFANS | citizen science coordinator

Byju Govindan | Forest Resources, CFANS | researcher


Lab or other website 


Collaborating organizations

USA-National Phenology Network

Oregon State University

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Minnesota Department of Transportation

Master Gardeners, UMN