Observing the leaves of a tree may be an old-fashioned method of predicting the weather, but farmers have noted that when maple leaves curl and turn bottom up in a blowing wind, rain is sure to follow. Woodsmen claim they can tell how rough a winter is going to be by the density of lichens on a nut tree. Before the katydid awakes, a black gum tree is able to indicate the oncoming winter. Trees can also be extraordinary timekeepers: Griffonia, in tropical west Africa, has two-inch (five-centimeter) inflated pods that burst with a hearty noise, indicating that it is time for farmers of the Accra Plains to plant crops; Trichilia is a 60-foot (18-meter) tree that flowers in February and again in August, signaling that it is time, just before the second rains arrive, for the second planting of corn. In the Fiji Islands, planting yams is cued by the flowering of the coral tree.
This weather map, issued on September 1,1872, was produced by the U.S. Army Signal Service, and displays information such as air pressure, cloud cover, precipitation, and ocean currents, but only for the eastern half of the United States. (NOAA)