California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

California Fall Color Looks Back at 2016

     Posted on November 24, 2016 by John Poimiroo

On this Thanksgiving Day, CaliforniaFallColor.com is thankful to every color spotter and photographer who contributed photographs and reports in 2016.

They include (from first turned leaf reported): LA Leaf Peeper, Darrell Sano, Alena Nicholas, Sandy Steinman, Sweetshade Lane, Chuck Eads, Josh Wray, Anirudh Natekar, Carolyn Webb, Jill Donald, Mark Finan, Eileen Javora, Don Vilfer, Greg Newbry, Jeff Simpson, Jared Smith, Krisdina Karady, Leslie Morris, Shanda Ochs, Gary Young, Dave Olden, Kimberly Kolafa, Clayton Peoples, John Caffrey, Alicia Vennos, Kimberly Wilkes, Bob Weaver, Robert Provin, Sharon Roberts, Debbi Waldear, John Natelli, Vince Piercey, Kevin Lennox, Tim Fesko, Phillip Reedy, Elliott McGucken, Becky, Scott Turner, Naresh Satyan, Max Forster, Mark DeVitre, Daniel Stas, Mike Nellor, Leor Pantilat, Kevin Rose, Julie Kirby, Gigi deJong, Michael Caffey, Abhi Bhaskaran, Andrew Zheng, Laura Zirino, Jan Davies, Jeri Rangel, Lorissa Soriano, Carol Novacek, Nancy Wright, Janet Fullwood, Jim Van Matre, Jeff Luke Titcomb, Marc Hoshovsky, Gene Miller, Raymond Pangilinan, Crys Black, Jeff Hemming, Michael Beatley, Maggie Huang, Wendy Zhou, Danny Hu, Susan Taylor, Tracy Zhou, Gabriel Leete, Frank McDonough, William Croce, Son H Nguyen, Skandar Reid, Dennis Hayes, Anson Davalos, and Ron Tyler, who produced the above video.

We’re also grateful to the many readers who posted photos and reports to our Facebook page (including: Brian Wong, Dave Butler, Pardhiv Kani, Jeff Guillory, Nancy Barron Booher, Mark Grover, Kathy Jonokuchi, Vera Fuad, Cory Poole, Sara Stillwell, Peter Stair, Front St. Media, JT Humphrey, Ray McLaughlin, Rose Comstock, Daklak Foto, Mark Spicer, Tracey Lee Brown, Joel Rathje, Connie Ostlund Varvais, Susan Walker Bell, Cristi Lanepa and Stephen Dietrich) and those who retweeted our Twitter posts (you are too numerous to name).

Special thanks are expressed to Inyo County Tourism, Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, Mono County Tourism, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Redding Convention & Visitors Bureau, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, and The California Parks Company for underwriting California Fall Color, and to the many reporters and media who carried our reports and gave attention to what we have shown about California’s fall color.

This list is incomplete without mentioning Joan, my wife, who has researched plant species in reference books; driven the car, pulling it over to the shoulder at my whim, so that I could jump out to photograph a particularly beautiful location; humored my recording of color percentages, species and elevations; pointed out particularly beautiful color; and tolerated my exuberance in excitedly showing her wonderful photographs taken by contributors.

Of course, our deepest thanks go to the many tens of thousands of people who have followed CaliforniaFallColor.com here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. You are, after all, the reason we do this.

If we missed thanking you here, please know it wasn’t intentional. CaliforniaFallColor.com is indebted to every color spotter, photographer and commenter. Thank you all.

Autumn doesn’t end on Thanksgiving Day. It continues for nearly a month longer. We’ll continue to post photos and reports as received. Though today, we begin to dial back reports, posting them less frequently. We have also stopped issuing weekly reports to California TV meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers.

So, enjoy Thanksgiving Day. See you next autumn, dude.

California (Peak 75-100%) GO NOW! – In our hearts, California is always peaking.

Botanical Friday

     Posted on November 21, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Japanese maple, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Japanese maple, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Fall color has now descended to see level. See it at the state’s botanical gardens this week.

Erica bauera, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Erica bauera, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Forget-me-not, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Forget-me-not, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Erica glandulosa, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Erica glandulosa, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bay Area naturalist and color spotter Sandy Steinman visited the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley to find it filled with late blooming South African flowers.

One could almost be convinced that they’re still on a southern hemisphere springtime calendar, from their November blooms. Nah.

Beautyberries, callicarpa mollis, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Beautyberries, callicarpa mollis, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

The Botanic garden was also full of irridescent Japanese maples, and our favorite ornaments of the season… Beautyberries.

Japanese maple, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Japanese maple, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Japanese maple, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Japanese maple, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Japanese maple, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

Japanese maple, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/20/16) Sandy Steinman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re going this week, the garden closes at 2 p.m. on Wed. and will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.

But then, for fall color shopping pleasure, it reopens the following day, which we call “Orange Friday” (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) or should we call it “Botanical Friday,” ’cause it sure ain’t black.

UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Poetry Past Peak

     Posted on November 20, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Shenandoah Rd., Amador County (11/20/16) Darrell Sano

Shenandoah Rd., Amador County (11/20/16) Darrell Sano

There’s poetry in the progression of peak color. At least, when Darrell Sano describes it.

He traveled to Amador County and its Shenandoah Valley near Plymouth this past weekend to pick up a wine club order from one of its great wineries.

Tip: Put the Sierra Foothills wineries on your next wine tasting excursion, as the wineries of El Dorado and Amador Counties are exceptional and many provide tastings without charge.

Shenandoah Rd., Amador County (11/20/16) Darrell Sano

Shenandoah Rd., Amador County (11/20/16) Darrell Sano

Shenandoah Rd., Amador County (11/20/16) Darrell Sano

Shenandoah Rd., Amador County (11/20/16) Darrell Sano

Shenandoah Rd., Amador County (11/20/16) Darrell Sano

Shenandoah Rd., Amador County (11/20/16) Darrell Sano

Shenandoah Rd., Amador County (11/20/16) Darrell Sano

Shenandoah Rd., Amador County (11/20/16) Darrell Sano

I had discouraged his optimism, stating I thought Darrell’s trip would be fruitless, other than for the wine tasting, as fall color in the Sierra Foothills was mostly past peak.

After seeing it, he agreed.  The Sierra Foothills are past peak, but countered, “like Napa and other wine regions, the leaves are still there, though more rustic, leathery, with an ochre-rust color. But these leaves past peak display texture, character, and perhaps a glimpse of time constantly in motion.

“The rains have now created areas of highly saturated grass, and the green grass against warm leaves is spectacular. Perhaps the vines are past peak, but the rains have created peak grass!”

Good photographers are never disappointed by the weather. They find beauty in it, as did Darrell.

He reported the stormy sky to be “interesting,” providing “a different feel for photography” with “diffused light without the harsh contrasts found on a sunny day.

“It felt very much like a typical fall color day, and I enjoyed the vistas from the various wineries perched on hills on Shenandoah Road. These photos are all from that road, and enjoyed tasting the great wines from this unique region,” he reported.

Fall Color in the Fog

     Posted on November 20, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/19/16) Darrell Sano

Fall color intensifies in flat, overcast light, created by a foggy or rainy sky.

Oakland color spotter Darrell Sano was up in the Napa Valley yesterday, as rain swept across Northern California.

He returned with these bright images of fresh green grass and fully turned grape leaves, scenes similar to what Tracy Zhou captured during the previous week’s storm.

Darrell found the “intense, lush green that now blankets the vineyard floor” to be “striking” and contrasting “with what’s left of the reds and yellows on the vines.”

High winds lashed parts of the north state, though wind only strips what was ready to fall.

Leaves in the process of ascission often remain hanging.

Clouds and fog that “hung low among the trees… never did provide definition beyond a gray “softbox” of a sky. Nevertheless, the scenery was beautiful, subdued, and introspective.”

Darrell found beauty by searching “the many dead-end lanes that are perpendicular to the highly trafficked route 29 and Silverado Trail.”

Napa Valley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Special Report: Death of the Sierra

     Posted on November 19, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Dead pine at sunset, Sequoia National Park (11-12/16) Anson Davalos

Dead pine at sunset, Sequoia National Park (11-12/16) Anson Davalos

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Sequoia National Park (11-12/16) Anson Davalos

Nearly 70 million trees have died in the Sierra Nevada.

29 million died last year, alone.

When the setting sun illuminates the dead trees (mostly pine), as seen in Anson Davalos’ photographs, their orange glow almost resembles fall color.

It is a false beauty. There is no attraction in what has happened to the Sierra Nevada.

The death of its pine forest has followed four years of drought and 100 years of fire suppression which, together, have resulted in an overgrown forest that competes with itself for water, making it susceptible to high temperature fires and insect infestations.

Sequoia National Park (11-12/16) Anson Davalos

Sequoia National Park (11-12/16) Anson Davalos

Sequoia National Park (11-12/16) Anson Davalos

Sequoia National Park (11-12/16) Anson Davalos

Parched pines, unable to emit sap, have been defenseless against bark beetles, and the beetles have had a feast.

The death of the forest is most evident in the southern Sierra. Though, the infestation has been advancing northward. And, foresters are unsure where or when it will stop.

The forest will restore itself in 200 years, but we don’t have that long. That’s because California depends on the Sierra Nevada watershed for 60% of its water.

Unless the forest is thinned, more trees will die and the watershed will suffer.

Restoring the watershed will require heavy investment ($500 million per year), in order to log the forest, process the timber and convert it into bioenergy (it’s basically useless as lumber).

CLICK HERE to read more about the problem and possible solutions.

Peak of the Week: Making Room for Schrooms

     Posted on November 17, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Pluteus spp (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

Pluteus spp (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

Bolbitus titubans (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

Bolbitus titubans (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

Ink cap [Corinus lagopus] (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

Ink cap [Corinus lagopus] (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

honey mushroom [Armillaria mellea] (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

honey mushroom [Armillaria mellea] (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

Deadly Galerina [Galerina marginata] (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

Deadly Galerina [Galerina marginata] (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

False turkey tail [Stereum ostrea] (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

False turkey tail [Stereum ostrea] (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

Gabriel Leete makes room for mushrooms in autumn.

The Shasta Cascade color spotter enjoys searching the woods for edible and otherwise fascinating mushrooms.

He sends back these images taken this week near Anderson. Recent rains have helped encourage mushroom hunting in the Shasta Cascade, which we declare to be Peak of the Week.

Gabriel writes (drawing text from Wikipedia searches for his descriptions) that the Pluteus are wood-decomposing saprobes with gills that are free from the stem and pink spore prints. These were found growing upon wood chips.

Bolbitius titubans, also known as Bolbitius vitellinus, is a widespread specie of inedible mushroom found in American and Europe.  It grows primarily on dung or heavily fertilized soil, sometimes on grass.

Ink cap (Coprinus lagopus) is a specie of fungus in the family Psathyrellaceae. It is a delicate and short-lived fungus, the fruit bodies lasting only a few hours before dissolving into a black ink – a process called deliquescence.

Armillaria mellea, commonly known as honey fungus, is a basidiomycete fungus in the genus Armillaria. It is a plant pathogen and part of a cryptic species complex of closely related and morphologically similar species.

Deadly Galerina is exactly as described… it is poisonous. Galerina marginata is a specie of poisonous mushroom in the family Hymenogatraceae of the order Agaricales. The specie is a classic “little brown mushroom“—a catchall category that includes all small to medium-sized, hard-to-identify brownish mushrooms, and may be easily confused with several edible species.

False turkey tail looks like one, doesn’t it?  That’s because of the concentric circles of many colors seen on the Stereum ostrea specie. This variety is a wood decay fungus that grows on tree bark. Native to North America, it grows year round.

Caution: do not eat wild mushrooms, unless you are expert at identifying them, as many poisonous varieties resemble their edible cousins.

Mushroom Hunting, Shasta Cascade – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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Mountain Ash Peaking at Tahoe

     Posted on November 16, 2016 by John Poimiroo
American mountain ash, Incline Village, NV (11/14/16) John Poimiroo

American mountain ash, Incline Village, NV (11/14/16) John Poimiroo

American mountain ash (Sorbus americana), a tree that is native to New England and eastern Canada, is peaking at Incline Village, NV.

The exotic has compound, odd-pinnate leaves of a bright yellow and gold color right now, and carries large bundles of berries that will last through winter.

While the native stands of aspen, dogwood, bigleaf maple and cottonwood are past peak at Lake Tahoe, landscaped forests are on a different fall color cycle, with mountain ash providing eye-catching color in mid November in neighborhoods near the Sierra Nevada College campus and the Hyatt Lake Tahoe.

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SoCal Mountains: Past Peak, Still Glowing in Places

     Posted on November 13, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Lake Arrowhead (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

We’ve been reporting that Southern California’s mountains are past peak, though as color spotter Alena Nicholas shows us in this post… many spots of bright color can still to be discovered.

Lake Arrowhead (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

She traveled to Lake Arrowhead and Lake Gregory in the San Bernardino Mountains and Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains to find these scenes.

Lake Arrowhead (11/12/16) Alena Nicholass

Lake Arrowhead (11/12/16) Alena Nicholass

Lake Arrowhead (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Idyllwild (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Idyllwild (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Idyllwild (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Idyllwild (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/12/16) Alena Nicholas

While the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa prepares for the holidays by putting up colorful lights and decorations, nature continues to light up the forest with black oak and Rocky Mountain maple providing orange and red ornaments.

Should you visit Lake Arrowhead, stop into the Gift Gallery to see Alena’s photographs. We extend the same invitation to other photographers and color spotters who contribute your work to this site.  Should you have them on display, tell us and we’ll pass the word to others so they can see what you’ve seen and photographed.

Alena agrees that the mountains are generally past peak, but for the observant the glow continues.

Southern California Mountains – Peak to Past Peak – YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!

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Napa Valley: A Blend of Spring and Fall

     Posted on November 13, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/12/16) Tracy Zhou

Peak continues in the vineyards, reports color spotter Tracy Zhou, with a blend of spring and fall.

Recent rains have encouraged grasses to sprout between the vines, creating a scene that is unusual… the combination of spring green and fall foliage.

Napa Valley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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The Tough Get Going

     Posted on November 12, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Liquidambar, redbud and tupelo, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/9/16) Frank McDonough

Redbud, liquidambar and tupelo, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/9/16) Frank McDonough

Paper whites, Chinese parasol tree, birch and maple, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/9/16) Frank McDonough

Paper whites, Chinese parasol tree, birch and maple, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/9/16) Frank McDonough

American elm, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/9/16) Frank McDonough

American elm, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/9/16) Frank McDonough

Arboretum Fountain, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/9/16) Frank McDonough

Arboretum Fountain, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/9/16) Frank McDonough

Pomegranate, Japanese maple (red), Gingko, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/9/16) Frank McDonough

Pomegranate, Japanese maple (red), Gingko, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (11/9/16) Frank McDonough

Peak autumn color has now dropped below 1,500′ in elevation. As a rule of thumb, that means there’s another two to three weeks of peak color to be enjoyed.

California’s lowest elevations, are absent of big, bold forests full or aspen, bigleaf maple, or dogwood.

Instead, finding fall color is tougher going. The state’s best color spotters find it by searching river and stream banks, orchards, vineyards, urban forests and arboretums.

Two of the best arboretums to see gorgeous fall color through the end of the month are the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley and the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia.

What is special about arboretums is that a variety of exotic and native trees can be seen together, at peak. And, because they are all identified, you know what peaks when.

As seen in Frank McDonough’s photographs from the LA County Arboretum, redbud are nearly past peak (just as they are at 800′ in the Sierra Foothills), though other species, like the American elm shown here, still have a way to go.

There’s little question that, in November, the going get’s tough for color spotters. Though, the best of them keep going outdoors to find it in the most amazing places.

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (482′) – Patchy (10-50%)