Get your fall color fix! Check out timing and location for peak autumn hues

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IOWA – A shift in seasons can be felt in the air and that means the change in fall foliage colors won’t be far behind.

Fall, with its shorter days of sunlight and cooler nights, officially begins September 22nd. But, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says some trees in the state are already beginning to show their autumn colors.

In its first fall color report of 2021, the DNR says sumac, dogwood, and Virginia creeper are turning red, and oranges and yellows are beginning to become visible in trees across the state.

The DNR has a map that outlines when the peak fall colors should be visible in different areas of the state. On average, the DNR’s Forestry Bureau says peak color will be seen first in northeast Iowa, usually around the weekend closest to October 10th. As the season rolls on, peak fall color in trees will move to the southern parts of Iowa.

Peak Fall Color Viewing in Iowa (Courtesy: Iowa Department of Natural Resources)

The DNR also has a primer on what kind of colors you can expect from different varieties of trees in the state.

  • Ash: Green ash leaves turn yellow, but white ash has a purplish cast. The leaves fall after those of walnut trees, but earlier than  those of oaks and maples.
  • Elms: Elm leaves turn various shades of yellow with some turning brown before falling, others falling while still yellow.
  • Hickory: Leaves turn yellow on hickory trees, then brown before falling.
  • Maple (Soft): The leaves of soft (silver) maples turn yellow but do not turn brown before falling.
  • Maple (Hard): Brilliant flame red hues are the signature of hard maple leaves. The red pigmentation of some leaves breaks down before falling.
  • Bur Oak: Buff to yellow colors predominate in bur oaks. The leaves remain on the tree and turn brown before falling.
  • Oak (Red): The red oaks have brilliant red leaves in fall though the color is probably not as intense as that of some hard maples.
  • Oak (White): White oaks have a more subdued purple fall leaf color. The leaves then turn brown and often stay on the tree until new leaves begin to grow in the spring.

If you’d like to sign up to receive a weekly report on the fall color changes across Iowa, click here.

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