Dormancy release and thermal time to budburst as affected by duration of chilling outdoors, followed by different flushing temperatures and daylengths in a phytotron, were studied in cuttings of several northern tree species. In Betula pubescens, B. pendula and Prunus padus vegetative buds were released from dormancy already in December, in Populus tremula in January, whereas in Alnus incana and A. glutinosa dormancy was not released until February. Thermal time (day degrees >0°C) to budburst decreased non-linearily with increasing duration of chilling (i. e. duration outdoors), and the slope of this relationship differed among species. The estimated effective base temperature for accumulation of thermal time varied from + 1°C in P. tremula to −4°C in P. padus. The use of 0°C as base temperature is recommended. Long days reduced the thermal time to budburst at all flushing temperatures (9, 15 and 21°C) in all the above species and in Corylus avellana, whereas Sorbus aucuparia and Rubus idaeus showed no daylength response. Since the chilling requirement of all species was far exceeded even in a winter with January-March temperatures 6.5°C above normal, it is concluded that under Scandinavian conditions, the main effect of climatic warming would be earlier budburst and, associated with that, a longer growing season and increased risk of spring frost injury.