Deciduous trees adapt to harsh winters by discontinuing the production of chlorophyll, the main ingredient in a plant that turns sunlight into glucose and feeds the trees resulting in green-colored leaves.
Fall Color: The best fall color develops in the year of Goldilocks, the temperature is not too hot and not too cold, the moisture is not to wet and not too dry. September and October in the Northern US experience shorter days with less light. With the decrease in the production of chlorophyll, tree leaves give way to beautiful colors from brilliant golds to stunning reds.
June to August of 2020, was the 4th hottest summer in recorded history in the USA,
According to the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. www.noaa.gov
How Does the Drought and Extreme Heat affect Fall Foliage?
Trees are resilient and adaptive in nature, but consistent Drought and Severe Heat can cause physical damage like root loss and slowed growth making it difficult for trees to defend themselves against pests and disease.
These circumstances will increase tree stress prior to the fall foliage season resulting in leaf loss and early browning. When the summer heat persists into the fall, tree leaves may color early and a shorter fall foliage season occurs.
As one year rolls into the next when trees experience extreme stress, tree leaf and seed production are negatively affected. Trees need to remain healthy and it all depends on the cooperation of the weather. In a good winter, trees will be able to store up energy reserves and nutrients levels resulting in healthy leaf growth in the spring with abundant seed production. Trees are resilient and can often recover from one bad season, but with continued inclement weather their well-being will be affected.
Fall Foliage Trees Worth Knowing
Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria)is a multiple-branching shrub with an open, spreading, irregular habit, only rarely forming a small tree. The autumn color can be strikingly varied, from peach and yellow to scarlet. It is commonly grown as an ornamental plant.
Japanese Maple (Palmatum matsumurae) is a strongly variegated cultivar, with arguably the most interesting colored leaves. Almost the entire leaf will be cream with undertones of red and dark green veins.
Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is one of the most handsome plants for landscape designers. The leaves roughly resemble giant oak leaves being shiny dark green, nice purple, red, or orangish brown in fall.
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a rampant vine that clings with gluey disks to any surface. It has compound leaves with 5 leaflets that are lustrous dark green in spring and often crimson, flaming red or purple in fall.