Monarch butterfly on Common milkweed plant

Milkweeds and Monarchs

Summer 2020 - Fall 2025

Declines in monarch butterfly populations in North America may be due to declines in milkweed plants, a necessary part of the butterfly's reproductive cycle. The butterflies lay their eggs exclusively on milkweeds, which their caterpillars (larvae) rely on for food as they develop. Researchers are studying the relationship between milkweeds and monarchs more closely, and Budburst is enlisting our citizen scientists to help answer the question, do monarch butterflies prefer to lay eggs on flowering or non-flowering milkweed stems?

Small bee on an aster; photo courtesy of Jane E. Ogilvie.

Nativars Research Project

Spring 2018 - Fall 2022

Nativars are cultivated varieties of native plants that can differ from their parent species in flower color, flower size, scent, phenology, and other ways that may affect their attractiveness to pollinators. With an upsurge in concern about pollinator conservation, many people are asking if it is OK to use nativars in pollinator gardens. To date, there have been very few studies on this and the results have been mixed. So we invite you to join us on this scientific journey to help answer the important question: how do nativars differ from one another and from their parent species in phenology and pollinator attractiveness?

Image of Spiderwort, Tradescantia ohiensis

Chicago EcoFlora Project

New EcoQuests added monthly

Venture on an EcoQuest! Help Budburst understand which species are thriving and which are declining in the Chicagoland area. As plants face increasingly urban environments across America, scientists and land managers need to better understand how our flora is responding to these changes. Your observations through monthly EcoQuests will provide necessary data for conservation initiatives-both controlling invasive species and protecting native ones.

Nanking cherry blosssoms, Chicago Botanic Garden

Cherry Blossom Blitz

Annual Springtime Campaign

In many parts of the country, the arrival of cherry blossoms is a sure sign that spring is here. These beautiful and showy trees captivate the senses with their magnificent blooms and soft scents. The tradition of cherry blossom festivals in the United States began in Washington D.C. in 1927 and now many communities across the U.S. host festivals as well. Since so many people are outside enjoying these trees, spring is a great time to focus attention on seasonal change. You can participate in the Cherry Blossom Blitz from February through May. Locate a cherry tree and tell us what your cherry tree is doing!

Purple coneflowers

Summer Solstice Snapshot

Annual Summer Campaign
Summertime! And everyone loves to be outside and in nature. Look closely at the plants around you: what stories are they telling you?  What plants are flowering? Which are fruiting or dropping seeds?  In the heat of summer it can feel as though everything slows down, but the plants around you are still changing. How are they adjusting to changes in climate?  Your observations help tell their story!  Scientists, researchers, and students benefit from your observations.  Share your plant reports! 


Maple leaves in fall

Fall into Phenology

Annual Autumn Campaign

What autumnal changes do you notice in the plants in your neighborhood, schoolyard, or community? At Budburst, we are interested in what plants are doing throughout the year so we can understand how plants respond to changes in their environment. Fall into Phenology is a fun way for everyone to get outside to observe fall phenological changes around the country. Join us to learn more about the stories plants are telling this fall!