I love the fall, it’s exhilarating, the weather is nice and it motivates one to get outside and enjoy GOD’s creation.

(courtesy of John Pyle Photography, johnpylephotography.com)


WHAT CAUSES THESE LEAF COLOR CHANGES?  During winter, trees slow down their processes including photosynthesis. There is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process whereby they take up water and nutrients from the soils and use sunlight to convert them into food for the plant. This all takes place in the leaf. The trees will rest, and live off the food they stored during the summer. They begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow, red and orange colors or pigments called carotenoids and anthocynins.  Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along. We just can’t see them in the summer, because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll.

The bright reds and purples we see in leaves are made mostly in the fall. In some trees, like maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops. Sunlight and the cool nights of autumn cause the leaves turn this glucose into a red color. The brown color of trees like oaks is made from wastes left in the leaves.

This is a list of some (but not all) of the trees that provide some of the best color in the southeast United States: Baldcypress, Maples, Black Gum, Sweet Gum, Sourwood, Sassafras, Birches, Redbuds, Hickories and Poplars. Fall colorations adds millions of dollars to our Eco-tourism business with leaf-lookers driving the Appalachians during peak fall season. I have meet many of these good folks on my fall motorcycling excursions with my wife while traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway. What Fun !!

I have provided a map of the United States which is colored coded showing peak fall coloration for your use. Get out on enjoy the great outdoors!

Written By:

G. Kent Morris, RF, ALC

Registered Forester

Accredited Land Consultant

Associate Broker, Bickerstaff Parham Land LLC