The Colors of Fall
With summer winding down, there is still ample time for a great fall hike. One of my most favorite things about hiking during this time of the year are some of the amazing trees you get to see. Here’s a few of my favorites.
These medium-sized deciduous trees are native to cold regions with cool summers, in the north part of the Northern Hemisphere, extending south at high altitudes in the mountains (such as Utah and Colorado). They love the sun!
Aspens groves grow in “clones” and each grove can include one or more of these clones. All the trees in a clone have identical characteristics and share a root structure. They can be distinguished from neighboring clones by differences in leaf size, leaf shape, bark, resistance to disease, time of flushing, and leaf color in the fall. If you’ve ever seen a large grove of Aspens where some are bright yellow or orange and some are still green, it’s likely they are from more than one clone. Clones can range in size from less than an acre, up to 100 acres.
The Pacific Madrone (aka Madrona, madrone, Arbutus) is a tree for all seasons. They have peeling, red bark with a layer underneath that ranges from bright green to a chartreuse color. Madrona trees do well in the sun and poor, rocky soil which is why you can find them growing on bluffs in the Pacific Northwest (like in the San Juan Islands) and they even tolerate salty water.
Sassafras can be found growing in fields or in open wooded areas and endure a variety of soil types in southern Maine, all the way west towards Iowa, and south to central Florida and eastern Texas.
The leaves, fruit, and bark are all eaten by birds and mammals and can be an important food source for deer in some areas. They change from variations of green during the summer to deep shades of orange, red, purple and yellow in the fall.