The American Journal of Science/Series 1, Volume 1/Bigelow on Climate

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Art. XV.  Professor Bigelow on the comparative
Forwardness of the Spring
in different Parts of the United States, in 1817.

WE  have been favoured with an ingenious memoir on this subject, by the author, Professor Bigelow of Boston; it is a part of the fourth volume of the Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Bigelow, availing himself of a hint given him some years ago by the late venerable Dr. Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania, ascertained, through the medium of correspondence with accurate observers in different parts of North America, the time of flowering, for 1817, of the common fruit-trees and a few other plantsfound in most parts of the United States.

The peach-tree was the one most uniformly returned, and the following table exhibits the time of its flowering, in places sufficiently numerous and remote, to afford a fair specimen of these observations :

Places. Lat. Long. Peach-tree in blossom.
Fort Claiborne, Alab. Ter.  31 °  50 87 °  50 March 4
Charleston, S. C. 32 44 80 39 . . . 6 12
Richmond, Va. 37 40 77 50 . . . 23 Ap. 6
Lexington, Ky. 38 6 85 8 April 6 15
Baltimore, Md 39 21 77 48 . . . 9
Philadelphia, P. 39 66 75 8 . . . 15
New-York, N. Y. 40 42 74 9 . . . 21 26
Boston, Mass. 42 23 70 62 May 9
Albany, N. Y. 43 39 73 30 . . . 12
Brunswick, Me. 43 63 69 55 . . . 15 [1]
Montreal, Can. 45 35 73 11 . . . 12

Professor Bigelow infers, that the difference of season between the northern and southern extremities of the country is not less than two months and a half.Difference of longitude does not seem very materially to affect the Floral Calendar within the United States.  It appears, that in the same year peach-trees were in blossom at Valencia, in Spain, about the 19th of March; the apple-tree near London, May 8th; the cherry-tree and pear-tree at Geneva, in Switzerland, April 3d.

We hope that this research will be prosecuted in the manner it has thus been happily begun.   It evidently affords an excellent criterion of the actual temperature, on a scale more extensive than it is practicable to obtain from thermometrical registers.

Floral Calendars kept in various parts of the United States would afford very interesting information, as to the changes of climate in particular places; a common topic of popular remark, but generally with few and inaccurate data.

  1. No return of this-tree was made from Brunswick.  The date of the cherry tree is therefore substituted, which is usually in blossom at the same time.