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There’s an Order to Ohio’s Colorful Autumn.

November 2, 2013

I’m happy to say that here in central Ohio the autumn color show is at its high point- a favorite time of year for me.  The colors seemed to have peaked around Halloween, which is a week or two later than previously if memory serves…I’m going to try to keep track of such things in the future to watch for trends.

A couple of years ago (wow, time flies!) I posted about autumn foliage– why trees get so colorful this time of year.  I figured I’d look at a different aspect of autumn colors this year.

Interestingly enough, there is an order to the riot of colors, specifically which trees turn colorful at what times.  Here’s what I noticed this autumn about what got colorful when.

A Little Color (last half of September)

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As early as mid-September I saw Sassafras trees turning from green to yellow orange and red- these are the earliest trees to do so in my neck of the woods.  Unlike many other trees, they get very colorful very quickly.  Sassafras trees aren’t very common, but when they look like this they’re quite easy to spot!

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Also notable for showing some color were the occasional Sumac trees.

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In late September, the first common trees I noticed changing color were the Black Walnuts- their upper leaves got yellow, then the lower leaves, and then suddenly it seemed most of the Walnut trees were bare.  Once they start, Walnuts don’t mess around.  Later on, other trees like Cottonwoods and Honey Locusts would get bare as well.

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The occasional Maple would show some color by late September, usually just a portion of the leaves.  Most Maples were still green.

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Even the odd Oak tree would have stray patches of color.

More Color (early October)

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Come early October, Hickory trees began to turn yellow.  This is a common species here, and so the amount of color was increasing.

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Funny enough, Sycamores seem to go rapidly from green to brown in coloration.

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By mid-October, the Maples got into high gear- since Maples are quite common, this was a tipping point to where it looked like the woods were more colorful than ever.  Maples love the color yellow, which turns to orange and red in some trees.  These are usually the brightest colors in the woods.  A mature Maple wood resembles a golden cathedral.

Full Color (late October)

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Sweet Gum trees are quite brilliant in their colors once they turn.

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Beech trees have also joined in.  And, last but not least…

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Oaks are the last of the trees to break out in their stately colors.  It was late October before they took the plunge.  Once Oaks join in, you are at the peak color season- enjoy!

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2013 11:49 pm

    Thanks for the post, Tracy. Didn’t make it to the mountains this year to see the changing of the leaves and your pictures helped fill the gap. Like how you took the color process step-by-step. The Maple-golden cathedral comparison is great.

  2. November 3, 2013 6:42 am

    Great information and photos! Trying to do the same post in Michigan could drive you crazy though, how close we are to the Great Lakes changes everything. The trees towards the interior of the state change much sooner than those along the lakeshores because of the moderating effects of the lakes. You can drive through the season several times in a day if you’re so inclined.

    • November 3, 2013 9:03 am

      That’s cool though- if you miss the peak color season in the interior, just go to the lakes- I like that!

  3. November 3, 2013 11:10 am

    Lovely shots. I love the golden yellow of the hickories.

  4. November 3, 2013 11:35 am

    Truly gorgeous~

  5. November 3, 2013 6:24 pm

    I am impressed not only by the colour but by the careful construction of the post. I hope you enjoyed putting it together as much as I enjoyed the results of your work

    • November 4, 2013 2:49 pm

      Many thanks, Tootlepedal! Some might think that I get rather fixated on such things, but I was wondering myself earlier this year if there was any order to all of that color- turns out there was some 🙂

  6. E.C. permalink
    November 3, 2013 11:57 pm

    Gorgeous, gorgeous photos. You’ve made a wonderful pictorial showing the order of the changing colors of fall. 🙂

  7. November 4, 2013 12:24 am

    What a beautiful display of the colors and the variety! You have very beautiful fall scenery!

    • November 4, 2013 2:51 pm

      The peak colors are already fading, Montucky- I went hiking around today and many Maples are bare (though the ground was golden). Funny how that happens so fast!

  8. November 4, 2013 10:51 am

    A wonderful ‘tour’ of the season’s colours! I love the maples especially. Our own woods are looking spectacular at the moment, and I’m hoping we don’t get too many gales to bring the leaves down.

    • November 4, 2013 2:52 pm

      Thanks Jo! That often happens here- we get a good wind and suddenly half the trees are bare!

  9. November 6, 2013 7:04 pm

    I think our season pretty much follows along with yours. All we see now are beeches and oaks and even they are almost done. A few bushes still look fairly colorful too. You had a great fall by the looks of things.

    • November 9, 2013 11:55 pm

      It was a good fall, but shorter than I’d like, Gardener- it’s been windy lately, and much of the leaves have fallen- the Beeches seem to hold onto their leaves the longest!

  10. November 6, 2013 9:28 pm

    Hi Seasons, Oh how I miss those Fall colors! It is just not the same here in sunny Florida. Your photograph series is tremendous! Have a great Thursday tomorrow!

    • November 9, 2013 11:56 pm

      Many thanks, Wildlifewatcher! Yet Florida has it’s own attractions. Funny enough, when I was down there a few years ago, there was a cold snap and it was 30 degrees in the morning. Go figure!

  11. November 10, 2013 11:44 pm

    Lots of pretty colors!

  12. November 14, 2013 5:33 pm

    Thank you. I really enjoyed this. I missed autumn in Ohio, and am learning about it in this new place, so it was nice to see the Ohio trees and colors again. 🙂

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