Recently in fall colors Category

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a walk among the trees: fall edition

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There are a lot of changes going on out there these days! Time to check in on the neighborhood trees.

The big, beautiful ash tree down the street has gone from this...

September 22nd this...

October 10th this...

October 16th

You can tell that things are really starting to speed up now. The change in the last six days is quite dramatic.

Our girl ash down the street also looks quite different.

Here she was two weeks ago:

September 28th

And last week:

October 10th

And just this past weekend:

October 16th

She's lost all of her leaves! All that's left on the tree is the fruit. And she's also lost her low-lying branches that I had so often photographed. Yes, the men with pointy sticks have been back, diligently pruning back all the trees I've been following! Grrrrr.

Then there's the maple I spotted by my kids' school. It turned bright red early on.

September 22nd

See the lower leaves that were still green back in September? Well, those are all that's left on the tree now!

October 16th

The chestnut tree I've been watching still has plenty of leaves, but it has been dropping stuff like gangbusters!

chestnuts and chestnut leaves

Even the slow oaks seem to have picked up the pace.

October 16th

And the slowest of all, the kooky honey locusts, are finally getting in on the fall fun.

October 16th

Better late than never!

bright colors and yes, acorns!

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Welcome to the party, oak trees!


See that there? It's orangey leaves on the big oak down the street. Woohoo!

And a few yards farther down, I spotted another oak with a little cluster of beautifully colored leaves.


The oaks may be late, but they are making up for it with some lovely colors!

I spotted these as I was stopped at a red light this week.



But where are the acorns? I want to see acorns! Okay, I've seen acorns. Just not on a tree. I've never been able to find them growing on an oak. Where do they keep the things?

I happened to find an oak twig on the ground last week and brought it home for closer inspection. I noticed some bud-like things near the leaf petioles.


But they look like buds for next year's growth. Well that's where the buds for next year are growing on my tree, so I assume that's what these are. So that still leaves me with the question: where's the acorns? Show me the acorns!

Mother nature could tell I was getting a little frustrated and she took pity on me by putting another oak twig in my path. This one was longer and had more growth.


Now I was able to see two different kinds of bud-like thingies on the twig!


See?! I think the top ones at the tip of the twig are the buds for next year like I saw on the first branch. And I think the darker ones below are tiny acorns!


They just look different from the buds near the top. These things look like tiny shriveled peppers with mini acorn caps on them. The other buds look more like something that could unfold its many layers to make flowers or leaves.


How cool is that? Also, how neat are all the veins you can see in the close-up of those leaves?!

Alright oaks, keep up the good work. I want to see more!

going, going....

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How appropriate that there was a moving truck parked in front of the stoplight trees all day last week. Those leaves are on their way out!

A week ago, the stoplight trees looked like this:


What a difference a week makes, right? Just look at how few leaves that middle tree has left!


Without any seeds to keep the canopy looking full, it's really starting to look bare. But wait, this is a boy/girl tree. I know I've seen girl flowers on this tree as well as boy ones. I wonder why I can find any fruit at all? Hmmm....

Here's a picture from two days later. Now look at the big tree on the right.


I wouldn't really call that green anymore! That's a male tree, like mine, and he seems to be changing all at once.

Three days later (this morning) and the stoplights look like this:


That's just five days between the first picture in this post and this one. Wow!

two weeks of fall

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My tree is really getting into the swing of things now!

A week and a half ago, the view of my tree from inside the house looked like this. Now it looks like this:


There's significantly fewer leaves and the ones that are left are way less green. In fact, some of them are downright brown.


These are higher up on the tree. Just below them is the last little cluster of regular old green leaves.


One look at the whole tree and you can see that this little cluster is in denial because ALL the other leaves are well underway.

Yes, I'm talking about you there.

And down below, a crowd is gathering.


They're all brown down here. But I don't think they are all brown when they fall. I think a lot of them are actually yellow when they fall and then brown quickly because they are no longer attached to the twig. Just a theory so far though. I keep trying to get a picture of a leaf actually falling, but I'm never quite quick enough to catch one with the camera. The whole watching a tree thing is funny: it's too slow and it's too quick all at the same time.

seeing red

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The stoplight trees continue their colorful tribute to traffic control and, amazingly, the girl ash tree (on the left) just keeps getting redder and redder.


Now that she's lost a lot of her leaves, I can see that the red isn't in fact coming from the leaves at all. It's the fruit!

click for a larger version!

I wonder if this apparent color change is simply due to the fact that I can see the fruit better now with the leaves gone. Or maybe the fruit has been getting darker in color. 

Here's how the fruit looked on a low branch five days ago. (The lower branches are changing a little more slowly, so I'd say this part of the tree is behind.)


And here's how the fruit looks today.


Hmmm... hard to tell.

The fruit hanging midway up the tree definitely looks darker than this fruit though. (The middle section of the tree colored earlier and has lost the most leaves. I'd say this part of the tree is ahead.)


It could just be the thick clusters of samaras that make them look darker. I couldn't say for sure.

Still, who would have thought that the seeds would be responsible for the fall colors and not just the leaves?!

we all fall down

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Look at all the leaves that have fallen off the girl ash tree down the street! She's looking pretty bare these days.


But she is still holding on to that fruit!


Unlike the ash, the maples are beginning to let their samaras fall.


And I've even spotted a few chestnuts on the ground!


The chestnut leaves are soooooo brown and shriveled now!


And the maple leaves are looking pretty yucky too.


Which makes me wonder: which goes first the seeds or the leaves? My girl ash tree is all about dumping her leaves right now, but she's still got her fruit, whereas the maples and the chestnut aren't dropping that many leaves, but the fruit is starting to go. Why drop your leaves first? Why hold on to them? Do maple seeds ripen faster than ash tree seeds? Do maple leaves last longer than ash tree leaves?

Even the honey locusts, which were so late to get leaves, are finally acknowledging the arrival of fall. I've spotted some yellow leaves up in the canopy.


And some below!


So that only leaves the oak still blissfully unaware and green as can be.


But we know that these leaves too shall fall.

my tree in the fall

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It occurred to me that in the midst of all this leaf-watching, I hadn't taken a nice picture of how my tree is looking with the change of the season. So....

September 26th

September 27th

It's a little less green and has a few fewer leaves every day. (Not that it ever had that many!) The leaf pile below is certainly growing.


And my view from inside is getting yellower:

September 25th

September 28th

I wonder just how long it'll take for all the leaves to fall. A month? Longer? Start the clock!

stoplight trees

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Every time I walk or drive down the street, I am amazed at the sight of the three ash trees across from my house. I've started calling them the stoplight trees.

September 23rd

I've been following their progress for a couple of weeks now. The girl ash tree on the left is still way ahead of the other two. Her leaves are mostly orangey-brown and a ton of them have fallen off the tree. The middle tree, which we recall is both male and female, looks just like the girl tree looked two weeks ago. It's leaves are mostly yellow and the fallen leaves are starting to pile up below it.


And the male ash tree on the right has still barely begun.

September 26th

A quick check today:

September 28th

I am still blown away by the fact that these are the exact same type of tree! Who would have thought that the sex of the tree would make such a difference in the fall?!

leaf down!

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It's happening! Leaves are beginning to fall from my tree!

Here's the sidewalk area beneath my tree three days ago on September 23rd.


This was one of the first days that I really noticed leaves accumulating beneath the tree.

Two days later, on September 25th, the area under the tree looked like this:


And one day later, this afternoon in fact, it looked like this:



it's fall, do you know what your tree is doing?

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So on this first day of fall, we know what the ash trees are up to but what about the other trees? 

Well, the maples, which have revealed themselves to be among the first trees to respond to the changing seasons, are really progressing. One maple at the boys' school is almost entirely red!


Why is this tree so red? Does a small tree change faster? What gets a tree going earlier than other trees? Earlier even than other maple trees? And what causes a tree to turn red instead of yellow? Is it very individual, like hair color or eye color? Or is it more closely related to the tree species? Maybe this specific maple species turns really red. Hmm.....

The oak trees were among the last to get started growing leaves in the spring. And, no surprise, they are still as green as they have been all summer. I had to look hard to find these three dead leaves on an oak by the park.


So I'm sensing a pattern here. Early to rise, early to bed. The trees that grew leaves early in the spring are changing colors earlier in the fall. Am I right?

The kooky honey locusts are also still very green. (Hey, they were also very late getting their leaves!) But while their leaves are still green, the seedpods are turning dark yellow and look like they are drying out. They kind of remind me of snake skin after the snake is done molting.


And then there's the chestnut that's been looking like camouflage for the last couple of weeks. Some of the leaves are now completely red and curled up.


Are those ready to drop?!

What are the trees in your neighborhood doing?

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the fall colors category.

drawing is the previous category.

field trip is the next category.

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