Many of our ancestors were rural folks that paid close attention to their surroundings and depended on Mother Nature to provide clues about the weather. Those old adages are mostly superstition, but don’t discount them too quickly because there might just be some wisdom mixed in with the folklore.
We’ve gathered a collection of ten plants or characteristics that may be helpful predictors for the weather.
1. Thick plant skins – If plants, fruits or vegetables develop a tough, thick outer covering, prepare for a hard winter. Watch for thick corn husks, flower buds, onion skins or apple peels.
2. Leaf drop – Leaves falling early predict a mild winter, while leaves falling late may predict cold, stormy weather ahead.
3. Berries and nuts – The period when blackberries ripen in late summer and early autumn is often called “blackberry summer,” and an abundance of berries and nuts is sure sign of a long, cold winter. Walnuts, however, are an exception. A generous crop signifies a mild winter ahead.
4. Dandelion flowers – In days of yore, dandelions were known as “the peasant’s clock.” When dandelions bloom in early spring, a short season is ahead, but late blooming signifies a dry summer. Dandelions also fold their blossoms and contract their puffballs before a rain, but fluffy puffballs indicate good weather.
5. Chickweed plants – Chickweed leaves fold before a rain, but expand them fully when good weather is coming.
6. Marigolds and daisies – If a marigold doesn’t open its blooms by early morning, rain or thunder will occur sometime that day. Daisies fold up when bad weather is ahead.
7. Cones – Pine cones open when the weather is dry, but moisture in the air causes the cones to close up tight when rain is coming.
8. Elderberry – Elder tree branches were believed to be accurate predictors of weather and the coming harvest. Here’s how it worked: An elder branch was placed in a jar of water on Dec. 30. If no buds appeared, the harvest wouldn’t be good. If, however, buds appeared and opened, a fruitful summer was ahead.
9. Persimmons – Here’s a weather tip if you have access to a persimmon tree: Remove a seed, cut it in half, and you’ll see an image of a knife, fork or spoon. If a knife is evident, expect a bitter cold, icy winter. If you see a spoon, watch for heavy snow. A fork is good news if you prefer mild winter weather.
10. Leaves curling up – Leaves of many trees, including oak, maple, poplar, sycamore and lilac, curl up before rain due to high humidity in air. Old-time weather-watchers watched for the leaves to show their undersides.