NY Times: Feeling Warmth, Subtropical Plants Move North

. . . Already, some states are facing the possibility that the cherished local flora that has helped define their identities — the Ohio buckeye, the Kansas sunflower or the Mississippi magnolia — may begin to disappear within their borders and move north.

By the end of the century, the climate will no longer be favorable for the official state tree or flower in 28 states, according to “The Gardener’s Guide to Global Warming,” a report released last month by the National Wildlife Federation.

. . . Groups that cater to gardeners have hastened to keep up. In December, the National Arbor Day Foundation released an updated version of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Hardiness Zone Map, which shows the lowest winter temperatures in different parts of the country and is used by gardeners to determine which plants can survive in their yards.

Using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Arbor Day map indicates that many bands of the country are a full zone warmer, and a few spots are two zones warmer, than they were in 1990, when the map was last updated. . .

Pretty interesting stuff. The problem is that the complexities of what is to come, are to hard to fathom. We human beings have such a limited capacity to understand the fullness of creation and frankly I don’t think we have the slightest clue of what we really have unleashed. To imagine a world where bluebonnets no longer grow in Texas… that is a bleakly sad thought and yet it could be reality in my lifetime.

Arborday.org: Differences between the 1990 and 2006 hardiness zones (it is crazy that my grandparent’s farm which used to be in a small pocket of zone 6 in western Oklahoma is now in zone 7, and that far southern Oklahoma is now in zone 8 — the same zone that Austin is in.)

Arborday.org: Video that highlights the zone changes