January 29, 2024 /
Christina Hester / Vincent Drader

Phenology February!

The NFL has the Super Bowl, the National Park Service has Fat Bear Week. The NCAA has March Madness, birders have the World Series of Birding. There seems to be a competition celebrating everything, from pickleball, to air guitar; from thumb wrestling, to mustache growing.

Well tree lovers, never fall victim to this FOMO again – Get ready to slam dunk into the arboreal arena with Casey Trees’ inaugural Phenology February! It’s time to leaf the ordinary behind and root for your favorite tree in a March Madness-style showdown like never before.

Why Phenology February?

In a month that too often feels cold and grey, lacking the spirit of the holidays earlier in the winter, and devoid of the greenery and colors that other seasons bring – it is easy to forget about our arboreal friends. Trees sit dormant, ready for spring to return. Thus, February is the perfect time for us to turn our attention again to trees and their seasonal changes, to remember the joys trees bring us year-round.

Additionally, it’s a great time to learn about our region’s tree species. DC is much more than its cherry trees, and we can take time to learn more about the diversity of trees we see every day.

How we created the Phenology February bracket:

Casey Trees plants a lot of trees – over 6,000 per year! We plant several species, most native to our area, and all suited for the mid-Atlantic climate and urban environment. We call them urban-hearty trees. They range from small to large trees, deciduous to evergreen, flowering to fall colors, and more.

We chose our top 40 tree species, to celebrate and highlight DC’s 40% tree canopy goal by 2032. We chose these tree species through a mix of criteria. We used overall planting numbers (i.e. which species we planted the most of last year), prevalence of species within the region, Casey Trees staff feedback, and more.

We seeded (no pun intended!) these tree species within our bracket to focus on these criteria, mostly to represent our planting efforts. For example, a tree species as a 1-seed is likely one of our most-planted species. However, we will admit that artistic license was taken to create a bracket that has interesting matchups, intriguing regions/divisions, and perhaps a bias towards some of our staff’s favorite species.

How you can vote in Phenology February:

Watch out in our Leaflet and on our social streams for links to voting starting next week, on Monday, February 5, 2024. You can also download the bracket and get creative – start an office pool, challenge a friend, or play in any number of ways!

Voting starts next week. For this week’s 4 “play-in” games (currently 8-seeds on the bracket), our staff will be deciding who wins! We’ll also give a few “honorable mentions” that didn’t make this year’s bracket. Be on the look out in next week’s Leaflet to see the winners and start voting!

So… who are your picks for Phenology February?!