Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Waves of color

Red Maple
Pennsylvania has a lot of different species of trees. I’ve heard numbers ranging from 108-134 different species, plus another 40 or so introduced species. That is one reason why the autumn leaf colors last so long here. More northern areas tend to have fewer species, and while their color change is very dramatic, the time to see that color is usually very short. Each tree species has its own time for the color change; some change early, others late. For me, that’s both good news and bad news.

The good news is that I get to see the gorgeous for colors for a long time. I will have color on the trees from now through early November. The bad news is that the forest here is rarely, if ever, all gorgeous at the same time. Often, there’s color mixed in with greenery, except at the end of the season when color is mixed in with bare branches.

The first wave of color change is going on now. Normally, the first wave is a yellow shade, except for aptly named red maple, which joins in too. Hickory and sassafras are in this first group.

Next is the orange wave. In this area that means the white oaks, and since there’s a lot of those here on Roundtop, that is a particularly pretty time of the fall. That probably won’t happen here for another two weeks or so.

When I’m lucky, the orange second wave and the final wave of red can come pretty close together. The last of the maples and the red oak are in this last group. This group changes the last week of October and into the early days of November.

Since nothing in nature is ever an absolute, these are general principles only. Certain species, like sugar maples, can show different colors on the same tree at the same time. Other species can show different colors from year to year, depending on soil and weather.

This year I’m hopeful the floods of September will yield an extra bounty of brilliant colors during October. I plan to take as many photos as possible.
Sassafras and beech


jeannette said...

Get a little bit of Fall when I go to Sacramento with Thanksgiving to my kids -love to walk through layers of orange and red leaves!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I love autumn; looking forward to your pictures.