Fall Foliage

by blackspanielgallery

Fall foliage is worth seeing, but timing and location must be just right. Understanding the event can help.

Fall can bring about spectacular views, but these do not occur everywhere. I live in an area where this is not an annual event. I always wanted to see the splendor of the colorful trees with their red, orange, and yellow leaves waving in the breeze, but that is not to be here.

There are several things needed for the trees to put on their annual show, they must be deciduous trees, or at least most of them must, they must be exposed to shortening days, and the weather must be cold enough.

To see fall foliage one must not only find trees that participate in the event, but must visit at just the right time, which is a narrow window.

My Past Problem

In the past I taught.  While this did give me quite a quantity of time off, I had no control over when that would be, so I was not off when I could drive to an area of fall foliage.  Retirement has its advantages

Not All Trees Are Alike

Trees are not all deciduous, which means they shed their leaves.  Evergreen do not change as a unit.  Many evergreens do drop leaves, such as oaks and magnolias, but there would not be entire trees of colorful leaves all at once for these.  Other evergreens, conifers, have needles which do drop, but not after putting on a display.  More likely a needle that drops from a conifer will go from green to brown, and many green needles remain as needles are slowly replaced.

 

Even deciduous trees can stop at yellow leaves, and never get to orange or red leaves.

 

Conifers have needles to preserve only small quantities of moisture.  Deciduous trees drop their leaves to prevent leaves from holding moisture by having the sap stop rising.  This causes the chlorophyl to disappear from the leaves, leaving them hues of yellow, orange, or red.  The leaves than fall.  The bare woody parts of the tree than survive the cold winter.  If moisture were still present in the branches in a large quantity, it would freeze and damage the tree. What we witness is the tree preparing to survive cold temperatures. 

Oak Mountain Park

On Monday we visited Oak Mountain State Park.  There is a road through the park, and side roads can take one up higher.  On the main road the scenery was beautiful, with a lake near the road.  There were places where one could see through clearings that contained such things as playground equipment for children, parking areas from which bicyclists begin their treks, and even a golf course.  Seeing trees was no problem, but only a small number were yellow.  Even harder to find were darker colors such as orange and red.  We did find a stand of orange trees near the bicycle area.

 

We also took a side road up the mountain, hoping the change of color would be more prolific in the higher elevations.  Unfortunately, it was not.  A large portion of the trees are pine trees, which are evergreen conifers. 

 

While there were few trees changing color, it was a pleasant trip, and had its own merits.

Oak Mountain

Oak Mountain Trees
Oak Mountain Trees
Oak Mountain More Trees
Oak Mountain More Trees
Oak Mountain More
Oak Mountain More

De Soto Park

On Tuesday we moved north, hoping the color change had peaked there.  We went through DeSoto Park.  This park is more primitive and is best for nature lovers.  Except for some trees at a small lake, the tree situation was about the same.  There were some red leaves near that lake, but again pine trees dominate the mountain.

De Soto Park

De Soto Park
De Soto Park
De Soto Park More
De Soto Park More
De Soto Park Even More
De Soto Park Even More

Why Do Lone Trees Change Color?

I noticed lone trees seem to change color best.  Perhaps I am mistaken, but it is how I perceive things.

 

There is a reason this should be so.  Everything radiates heat. In a lone tree situation, the heat radiated towards the ground is subsequently radiates away.  Only a small amount of it is radiated back to the tree, the rest escapes around the tree.  In a densely packed stand of trees the energy is trapped between the trees and the ground, radiating back and forth.  So, the cold temperatures can affect a lone tree more efficiently than a dense stand of trees.

Radiated Heat Made Real

While I understand the theory of things radiating heat it was made clear one winter day over forty years ago.  I was passing a field on my way to the university when I noticed the field I was passing was covered with hoarfrost.  There were green circles under the sparsely placed trees.  Why was this so?  The trees radiated heat, and raised the temperature just a little, but enough to prevent the hoarfrost from forming.  The circles would have turned white if the temperature had dropped just a little, and under a dense stand of trees it would have required a greater temperature drop of the ambient air. 

 

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Updated: 10/26/2020, blackspanielgallery
 
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blackspanielgallery 28 days ago

I doubt it to to the number of pines each has. But time limited me to nearby places that exceed the fall foliage of south Louisiana.

DerdriuMarriner 29 days ago

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for the practical information and product lines.
In particular, I applaud your including Native Trees of the Southeast, which I often pull out to look at.
Are De Soto and Oak Mountain parks particularly known for their fall colors?

blackspanielgallery on 10/28/2020

Here they do not root in wetlands, and swamps abound. The local sycamores are confined to lawns. The sprouting seeds are usually mowed down with the grass. The same is true of pecan trees planted by squirrels.

frankbeswick on 10/28/2020

Sycamores only in yards! Here in England they are prolific self-seeders. When the house next door to mine was unoccupied for nearly a year due to the death of the old man who dwelt there I gained permission from the new occupant to enter the garden and took out twelve self-seeded sycamores from the flower bed. They had all sprung up after his death. They are not native to Britain, but grow vigorously here. The seeds are windborne, and in our windy isle they get everywhere.

blackspanielgallery on 10/27/2020

You are fortunate. Here we have palms, pines, magnolias, weeping willows, and even cypress., with some maples and sycamores. Yes some do drop leaves, but with pines dominating the swamps we never get more than sporadic colors mixing in. The maples and sycamores are found only in yards, not indigenous to the area.

frankbeswick on 10/27/2020

Over here the leaves are falling in abundance. There is a willow behind my plot which is dropping loads of them.

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