Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fall foliage in the 2016 drought

Posted by Richard B. Primack

What does the combination of record high temperatures and low rainfall mean for this year's New England fall foliage? 

Due to the drought, many trees had their leaves turn yellow, or turn brown and fall off, even as early as August. Black birch trees in particular had many yellow leaves appearing notably early, in late August. Some sugar maples also had branches turn yellow or orange in early September. On the other hand, for many trees growing in moist ground where the effects of the drought have been less pronounced, leaves are actually changing color later than usual due to warm temperatures! 

A sugar maple with some branches that changed color early

Overall, this year's leaf peeping season will probably be more extended than in a typical year, with both earlier and later colorful foliage. With trees changing color at different times, plus more brown and dull changing leaves, this year's fall foliage is likely to be less vibrant and beautiful than usual.

A flowering dogwood with dull and drooping autumn leaves

Another notable feature of this year is the number of leafy twigs from oak trees littering the forest floor. It seems likely that many of these leafy branches were dropped to the ground by squirrels, which clipped the branches to more easily eat the acorns at the twig tips.

Click HERE to listen to Richard Primack on WBUR discussing this year's peculiar autumn foliage!

No comments:

Post a Comment