Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Color

One of the best autumn features is the colorful wooded landscape. Blue Jay Barrens has had a miserable showing of color this year. The largest factor contributing to the poor color is the extended drought that is now well into its fourth month. In many respects conditions remind me more of November than October.

As leaves of the large maples and ashes lost their chlorophyll, they transitioned from green to light brown and fell early from the trees. This resulted in grayish patches of bare branched trees where normally would be a brilliant display of yellow and orange.

In order to enjoy the fall colors, I’ve had to reduce my sights to focus on the smaller displays. Staghorn Sumac always produces brilliant autumn colors. We’ve never had weather conditions of any kind that diminished the fall beauty of this plant.

Dwarf Sumac is almost as reliable as the Staghorn. The Dwarf Sumac has a wider variety of shades ranging from red to yellow. I find this to be the ideal blend of traditional October colors.
Some of the sapling sized trees fared well enough despite the drought to produce some colorful foliage. The little Sassafras came through with some reds and yellows, while the larger specimens shed brown leaves.

The few small Sugar Maples that produced any color still had a lot of brown in the leaves. I’m used to there being a soft bed of leathery maple leaves beneath the trees, but this year all the leaves are dry and crunchy.

There’s still a chance that the large oaks will produce some color in the woods, but they never display anything as attractive as the reds on these smaller specimens.

The Black Gums have turned a brilliant shade of red and the black discolorations almost look like a natural mottling. I have yet to find a mature Black Gum anywhere near Blue Jay Barrens. The plants I do find are all young specimens colonizing the old crop fields. I’m curious as to the location of the seed source for all of these young trees. Where ever the source, they are doing their part to make the fall transition a little less bleak.


  1. Although there aren't as many colors this year, the ones you have are quite pretty. We found more pretty colors North of here where there has been more rain this year.


  2. Hi Steve...Ironically when leaves where at the peak here we hard two very hard rain storms and winds that did a lot of damage to the best of the viewing!!
    It will soon be over and into the freeze we go!!
    Ice in the bird bath this morning here!!

  3. Hi, Lois. I've been through some of the less droughty areas and agree that they have some very pretty displays.

    Hi, grammie g. If we could have shared weather this year, I bet we would have had perfect conditions both places. I hope it's quite a while before we have to deal with ice here.