The weather is getting cooler and the days shorter, which signals the trees to cease making green chlorophyll. As the green fades, the leaves show hints of their red anthocyanins and yellow carotenoids, sometimes in spectacular combinations. Currently, vibrant red can be seen on Virginia creeper and smooth sumac, and dark red is streaked on flowering dogwood leaves. Elms, walnuts, sycamores, hackberries, and red mulberries are progressing to yellow. Combine the red and yellow pigments and you get orange leaves, and many sassafras and black cherry trees are bright orange this week. Sugar maples — known to have some of the most vibrant fall color, ranging from red to orange to yellow all on the same tree — are beginning to shift away from green. It will be exciting to watch them continue to change. Wildlife-friendly fields remain attractive: the native grasses are in full head, and the last of the native flowers are blooming, but sadly they are on the decline for the year. The red fruits on invasive bush honeysuckles and autumn olive make them easy to identify right now, so it’s a good time to go cut them to keep your woods healthy.
Fall Color Hot Spots
Prairie Garden Trust in New Bloomfield is a great place to walk and enjoy the fall beauty. The native grasses and flowers are still quite picturesque, and you’re sure to see a few remaining butterflies. The woods display a diversity of trees framing lichen-covered rock outcrops. Reserve a free visit to this nonprofit nature garden at the link below before they close for the season!
One last canoe trip is always enjoyable while the temperature remains warm. A good trip of 4–6 hours is Rollins Ferry Access to Pointers Creek Access on the Gasconade River.