Fall Color Report
Scenes of the Metroparks wrapped in autumn hues. Photos will be added to the slideshow above.
Photos by Art Weber
The Flames of Fall
The progression of fall color has been cFallompared to a fire in the landscape.
Cold nights and bright, sunny days create the spark on the forest floor. The small flames begin to climb into the low shrubs, setting them aglow: First the sumac and blueberry, then the dogwood, small cherry and maple go up in “flames.”
The vines – Virginia creeper and poison ivy – burn like wicks up the trunks of the trees, eventually igniting the canopy in a blaze of flaming color.
Burning longest and last, with a deep burgundy flame, is the mighty oak. They will be extinguished only by the first snowflakes of the season.
Fall color is creeping in like the fog on these first autumn mornings. Sunny days and cool nights are the recipe for brilliant hues in nature. Follow the fall here. We'll update this page with new information, tips and programs as the season progresses.
Sassafras and Virginia Creeper Start the Show (October 12)
Two of the earliest signs of fall color are sassafras trees (top photo) and a vine called Virginia creeper (Below). Both are putting on quite a show right now. For those first flashes of color, look along the edges of area woods and waters.
Why Leaves Change Color (October 10)
Fall color mesmerizes people of all ages this time of year, but what is it that gives us these radiant reds and spectacular yellows?
In addition to making the food for the tree, leaves also make pigments. The three primary pigments are chlorophyll, carotenoids, and anthocyanins. Chlorophyll creates the green color in leaves, anthocyanins are the red pigments and carotenoids give leaves their yellow color. All three of these pigments are naturally occurring year-round, however they are masked by the most common pigment, chlorophyll. When the tree shuts down it’s chloroplasts in the leaves, chlorophyll is no longer being produced and the brilliant fall colors are able to show through.
Simple right? Well not quite.
There is more than just hours of sunlight are affecting fall color, otherwise all the trees would lose their leaves at the same time. Rainfall, temperature and shading also have influence on when trees turn colors.
Temperature plays a role in not only when the color changes, but also how brilliant these pigments come through. Sunny days and cool nights are ideal for keeping the sugars in the leaves intact to continue to display the pigments.
Peak fall color typically occurs around the third week in October, but predicting when this beauty is going to happen is not as easy as it sounds. It takes continued monitoring of weather conditions and the changing color to get a good grasp of when peak color will fall over northwest Ohio.
Photo taken at Pearson Metropark by Rachel Palmer
Birds Gather for Migration
Photo above: About six dozen great egrets and great blue herons gather on and below the Providence Dam near Grand Rapids.
Look Up, Look Down (Sept. 19)
Look up this time of year and you'll see streams of Canada geese in the sky and some yellow flickering in the trees. Look down, and you're likely to see buckeyes, their pods already fallen and split open, depositing the nuts on the forest floor.
This is also the best time of year to experience sunflowers, like those in the photo above, taken at Side Cut below the Fallen Timbers Monument. Asters are in bloom, too.
Misty mornings are another giveaway that there is a change in the air. Metroparks nature photographer Art Weber photographed the scene below in Oak Openings Preserve, as well as the sunflowers above.
Where to look: At the new Middlegrounds Metropark on the downtown Toledo waterfront, take the walk/bike path to the scenic overlook at the far end of the park. Notice the yellow cottonwood leaves shimmering in the sun. Also look for the yellows and reds in the sumac trees.
Experience it: Have a midday autumn adventure at Wildwood at 11 a.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on a brisk, one-hour walk. Good Health is Just a Walk in the Park starts behind the Visitor Center. No registration needed.