Fall Color Report for Week of October 14, 2018


Today was the Fall Foliage Ramble up on Grandfather Mountain. I gave a talk on the natural history and science of fall colors at 2 pm in the auditorium at the Nature Museum. There were also exhibits by a number of groups, including the North Carolina Native Plant Society, represented by local chapter chair Dr. Annkatrin Rose. I’d like to thank Gabe Duff and Amy Renfranz, from the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, for inviting me up to speak.


It was windy, cloudy and cool in the morning, but by 2 pm the weather calmed down and there were deep blue skies, low humidity, and views that went on for miles. 82 miles at least, because it was so clear that we could see the Bank of America tower from the top of Grandfather.


How were the trees doing? Well, they are………green! There has not been much if any color development in the two days since temperatures dropped. In fact, there is actually less color now because the ridges below Grandfather that were showing color two weeks ago had their leaves blown off by storms, and the ridge is back to mostly green. This is the first time I’ve ever seen retrograde fall color development!


At the high elevations on Grandfather the birches are much more noticeable, but other than that, there is not much to report. Just look at the photos I took in the accompanying album to get an idea of just how far behind the colors are this year. I estimate they are 10-12 days behind normal. We should be past the peak at the highest elevations on Grandfather, yet they have barely begun to show color as of today (Sat, Oct 13).


So, is there any good news? Yes. First off, temperatures are predicted to remain cooler over the next week with lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s. That should be perfect for stimulating color development. Second, trees below 3,500’ are still mostly green, which means that they still have the potential to turn color in the next two weeks. So, if you take the usual peak color dates and simply move them two weeks later, you’ll be on schedule for when the trees will change this year.


I’m still holding out hope that we will have some decent color over the next two weeks. I’ll be checking things out between now and then, and will hit the Parkway next weekend to report on colors from there down to Asheville.


If you are wondering whether you should head up to the mountains, my advice is that you should. Each week now we should have more color, especially since the weather is moderating,. And even if the colors don’t do well this year, it’s always better in the mountains, color or not. Keeping my fingers crossed!