Why the Leaves Seem So Colorful This Year

why the leaves seem so colorful this year

Texas will never be confused with Vermont when it comes to the changing color of the fall leaves. Sure we traditionally have some autumn color in our trees. The maples turn a pretty red color, but the red oak leaves generally turn brown and fall to the ground.

However, this year seems different. Not only are the maple trees showing off, but the red oaks are quite colorful as well. I’ve lived in Texas for 10 years and can remember only one other fall that turned my red oak red. So what decides if a tree can produce such vibrant colors?

Fall Foliage in North Texas

Daniel Cunningham, a horticulturist with Rooted In Nursery, explained that the more colorful autumns usually occur when there is plenty of rain during the growing season, with drier conditions during the fall.

Well, that’s exactly the opposite of what has happened this year. Much of the summer was quite dry with an increase in rainfall from late August into the fall. So there must be another reason.

A bigger factor could be the stretch of freezing to near-freezing weather that occurred in mid-November, a little ahead of schedule. Cunningham said that the colder weather helped break down the chlorophyll in the leaves allowing the red and the orange pigments to shine through. He also said the extended days of colder weather increased anthocyanin formation, the pigment that produces red and purple leaves.

So whether it was the dry, hot summer, or the autumn rain, or even the timing and duration of colder days, one thing is for sure: our Texas leaves are showing off their colors this year.

Japanese maples in Steve’s backyard and Sara’s stroll through the Japanese Garden in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden were featured on Nov. 29, 2022.

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