October 4, 2015

Some Fall Color

Every season has its pleasures, but fall in the northeast is a visual marvel. When the chlorophyll which keeps leaves green departs, it leaves behind the yellows, oranges, reds, and purples of carotenoids and anthocyanins. Go to this website for an explanation of the fall color change. In this part of the world, we think mainly of sugar maples, with their brilliant oranges and reds, as emblematic of fall; and looking at the colors above, there's a lot to learn about color mixing from Ma Nature.

But there are many other plants that have beautiful color changes in fall, such as the golden red-spiny seeds of the beech tree.

There are the seed heads of perennials that sometimes show delicate, lovely color, such as the spire of the Cimicifuga racemosa.

The Miss Kim lilac has another season of interest, with its leaves turning to a deep purplish burgundy red.

And the Euonymus alatus has leaves that become fiery crimson, hence its common name "Burning Bush".

In the yellow range are the milkweeds, a bright greenish yellow against the darker grasses.

The ferns beside the pond are now golden and rich rust colors.

There are still some apples hanging in the trees, orbs of color amid still-dark leaves.

But ah! the maples, flaming at their edges, are still the stars of the show. The color is not yet at its peak; in another week or so there will be more red and orange in the landscape.

Right now the hills are brushed with red. The reds will spread a bit and then, as leaves fall, only the dark greens of conifers remain, with the grays of the deciduous trees; winter will add whites. How I missed the seasons when I taught in California for three years! life is so much more interesting with their changes.


  1. Beautiful!
    It was in California (Yosemite gift-shop) that I first saw, in Andy Goldsworthy's "Collaboration With Nature", leaves arranged with precision color-graduation.

    1. You have those wonderful beech-nuts to eat.
      I had them at Smuggler's Notch.