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Citizen Science Project
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/ARSUserFiles/80440500/images/Picture2.jpg The Impatiens Downy Mildew Project: Citizen Scientists Figure it Out!

Downy mildew is a disease that infects Impatiens, a
plant worth thousands of dollars to local nurseries.
The disease appeared in 2009 & is now in 37 states.

In Maryland it can appear any time from June to October. Scientists working for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Maryland are interested in where the disease comes from and if it acts differently in different states. These scientist are putting little beds of Impatiens in gardens across the United States and you can volunteer your garden, too! You will be given two plants to put in your yard: one with red flowers and one with white flowers. One of these plants can get the disease; the other one won’t (it’s immune). Put them in your yard, patio or window box and watch them every week over the summer. Then report back to us [Tweet @USDA_ARS, post #USDA on Facebook or email] with the information of which plant got the disease, when and where. We will include your report in the map we make [map link].

Before: A nice border of                                       After: A flower bed with no

Impatiens plants.                                                   flowers!!

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What can you do to help?



Step One: Plant your two plants outside
In your yard, window box or planter.

Step Two: Take care of the plants and watch them every week for white fuzz and dropping leaves.

Step Three: If one of them looks sick, email ,Tweet
USDA_ARS or post #USDA on Facebook and
tell us which plant got sick(red flowers or
white flowers) and what town you live in.
Post a picture if you like!

Step Four: We put your sighting on our map [Click here to see the map]


What is Citizen Science?

Citizen science is scientific research conducted by amateur or non-professional scientists. It’s not a new concept; the public has always helped scientists by discovering dinosaur bones or new comets.


  • Since 1900 the Audubon Society has used volunteers to help with their annual winter bird surveys and to plant bird-friendly plants in yards.
  • The American Chestnut Foundation was founded in 1983 by scientists who wanted to restore the chestnut tree to eastern forests; to do that they enlisted the help of the public to find surviving trees, collect nuts, and grow the hybrid trees on their property.
  • In 1999, astronomers at the University of California asked citizens to use their home computers to help with “Project SETI”, searching the sky for signals from extraterrestrial sources.
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