Fall Color Report: August 20, 2023

Fall Color Report for Week of August 20, 2023

It’s still quite early in the season to be making any definitive predictions about the fall colors we’ll get in a few months, but there are some signs to take note of. First off, we are not in a drought situation. We’ve had abundant rain this summer, the soils are quite moist, and the trees aren’t showing any signs of distress. Of course, that could change between now and the end of September, but so far so good. 

Second, the long-range NOAA forecast (see attached figure) suggests that we will have slightly elevated temperatures through November and above normal precipitation. Both of these would lead me to predict that colors could be slightly delayed this year. The excessive rainfall, if it happens, could dampen the brightness of the red colors, especially if we get a lot of cloudy, rainy days in late September and early October.

As I noted in a previous posting, our urban maples are starting to turn color, as they always do at this time of year, as are the native flowering dogwoods. Buckeyes are also losing their leaves now, which is something they do early each fall. You may also be seeing a lot of browning along roadsides. That is most likely black locust, which is attacked in late summer by a native insect known as the locust leaf miner. This is an insect that eats out the inside of black locust leaves (it mines the leaf for food, so to speak, hence its name). The leaves then turn brown, die and fall off. It looks worse than it is, but this is a native predator and the trees seem to tolerate the damage, no worse for wear. 

There are numerous native wildflowers and garden plants putting on a flowering show at this time of year, including evening primrose, jewelweed (both yellow and orange), goldenrod, ironweed, white aster, bee balm, yarrow, phlox, hydrangea, and Joe-Pye weed. You can also find the white Indian pipe in wooded areas. Most of the species mentioned are attached in the photos provided.

For those planning a trip up to the High Country, remember that colors will start first at higher elevations, and then move downward over time. In the Boone/Blowing Rock area, that means peak colors will be around mid-October (12-20th), unless warming delays the onset of coloration. But we won’t be able to pin it down better until we get closer to those dates.

Hope you have a good end to your summer and a fun Labor Day weekend. I’ll post again next weekend.