California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

Posts Tagged ‘autumn leaves’

Early Color

Mon ,12/08/2013
Chinese Pistache - 2013 John Poimiroo

Chinese Pistache – 2013 John Poimiroo

Something odd is happening.

Early color is not unusual, but Indian Rhubarb showing in Plumas County (4,500′), Chinese Pistache showing in El Dorado County (800′), Fremont Cottonwood coloring up in Folsom wetlands (Sacramento County) and Quaking Aspen showing in Inyo County (5,000′) at the same time?  That’s unusual.

Quaking Aspen - 2013 Zach Behrens

Quaking Aspen – 2013 Zach Behrens

Last winter was unusually dry.  A dry winter often translates into earlier color (at least as far as we’ve noticed in past years).

We think naturalists and scientists might say “hogwash.”  But then we don’t pretend to be naturalists or scientists at California Fall Color, just observers of color change in the Golden State.

What are you seeing where you live and travel?

0 – 15% – Showing early color in the northern Sierra, eastern Sierra, Gold Country and Sierra foothills (exotic).

Who’s On First

Fri ,02/08/2013
Indian Rhubarb, Butt Creek - © Richard McCutcheon, 2013

Indian Rhubarb, Butt Creek – © Richard McCutcheon, 2013

Color spotter Richard McCutcheon sends this lovely spot of color seen yesterday in Butt Creek (Plumas County) and reports, “Could not believe it on Aug 1st, Indian Ruhbarb turned on Butt Creek.”

0 – 15% – Plumas County – Earning honors for the first report of autumn (at the beginning of August), Richard McCutcheon reports a hint of the glory to come now appearing along High Sierra streams.

A Video Look At 2012

Thu ,20/12/2012

On the final day of autumn, we remember some of the fabulous photographs provided to us by California Fall Color spotters in 2012, and express our thanks to all who contributed to or carried our reports.

Special thanks to Inyo County, Mono County, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Redding Convention & Visitors Bureau, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association and The California Parks Company for making California Fall Color possible and to Ron Tyler for creating this video.

Past Peak – California.

See you next autumn.

LA County Arboretum & Botanic Garden Still Burning

Fri ,14/12/2012
Wild California Grape, LA County Arboretum (12/14/12) Frank McDonough

Wild California Grape clambering on bamboo, LA County Arboretum (12/14/12) Frank McDonough

LA County Arboretum (12/14/12) Frank McDonough

Liquidambar styraciflua: Burgundy, Festival and Palo Alto (12/14/12) Frank McDonough

LA County Arboretum (12/14/12) Frank McDonough

Meyberg Falls: [from left] ficus benjamina “variegata” and gold and orange examples of Japanese maple [acer palmatum] (12/14/12) Frank McDonough

LA County Arboretum (12/14/12) Frank McDonough

A mix of color still showing at the LA County arboretum, including liquidambar and red maple (12/14/12) Frank McDonough

Frank McDonough of the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden sends these shots taken today.

With a week of autumn still remaining, the color is still intense at the LA County Arboretum, which remains a refuge of serenity separated from the  pell-mell pace of holiday shopping.  To sense the inward peace of this season, head to Arcadia.

75 – 100% – LA County Arboretum & Botanic Garden – Flame colors continue to burn as winter approaches.

Atmospheric River Floods the Color Away

Tue ,04/12/2012

North Arm, Indian Valley, Lights Creek (12/2/12) Richard McCutcheon

Color spotter Richard McCutcheon sends a link showing how this past week’s series of  storms stripped Plumas County’s Indian Valley of color and flooded fields and roads.  A phenomenon called an “atmospheric river” carried three tropical storms from Hawaii to California, deluging the north state.  McCutcheon reports his area was without power for nearly 39 hours.  To see more of his photos, CLICK HERE.

Past Peak – Plumas County – Recent storms have washed away what remaining color was on trees.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Thu ,29/11/2012

Japanese Maple Leaves during storm (11/28/12) John Poimiroo

Redbud (11/28/12) John Poimiroo

Redbud (11/29/12) John Poimiroo

Mission olives (11/28/12) John Poimiroo

A lot changes in a day, as seen in these photos (left) taken of a redbud tree in El Dorado Hills that was denuded in a day.

High winds and rain have knocked color from trees (above), carpeting Northern California with wet color.

On Tuesday, we traveled up CA-99 to Chico, stopping at Chaffin Family Farms near Oroville, where another aspect of fall color was seen… the olive harvest.

75 – 100% – Sacramento Valley – Nut and fruit orchards vary from peaking to past peak.  Recent storms have stripped trees of turned leaves, though color remains to be seen throughout the valley.

75 – 100% – Chico – Cottonwood were showing 75% yellow with some lime to green in riparian areas along the Sacramento River, west of Chico.

75 – 100% – CA-99 – Cottonwood are 75% yellow with some lime to green along the Feather River, east of Gridley.

A Day of Thanks

Thu ,22/11/2012

Sierra Autumn (10/22/2012) Nicholas Barnhart

On Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks to the over 50 color spotters and photographers who provided reports on California’s Fall Color this autumn.

The following individuals contributed reports and photographs to this blog this year: Rob Bohning, Nicholas Barnhart, Kimberly Kofala, Portia Soderberg, K Ashwini, Richard McCutcheon, Heather Heinz, Diana Wroblewski, Krisdina Karady, Jared Smith, Jon Klusmire, Alicia Vennos, Amanda Sweeny, Steve Wolfe, Charlie Noback, Scott McGuire, Barbara Steinberg, Dennis Vance, Kathy Levine, Helen Gunter, Jyoti Kumar Suravarjula, Jeff Luke Titcomb, Mike Nellor, Sue Fischer, Larry Trettin, Debbie Trettin, Brittini McGuire, Jenny Zink, Carolyn Webb, Laurie Baker, Sandy Steinman, Alison Maloney, Karen Haner, Tim Fesko, Dustin Osborne, Dan McKernan, Todd Stepien, Steve Caloca, Karen Moritz, Charley Arrowsmith, Michael Beatley, Joe Willis, Grace Smith, Amy King, Nicole Coburn, Michael Frye, Frank McDonough, Jeff Simpson, Will Klair, Carrie Klair, Grant Roden, Joe Pollini, Rachel Anderson, Mel Seator,  Jyoti Kumar Salvady, Charissa Gilmer and Rob McSkimming.

Without doubt, many others contributed reports, as well.  And, for those who I overlooked or did not know, please know that I am indebted to each of you for your efforts, talents, attentiveness and generosity in providing others reports on what you witnessed.  This list is incomplete without including my wife, Joan, who has humored my recording color percentages, species and elevations as we would travel hither and yon, and – more importantly – point out particularly beautiful color on our travels across California.  Every person should have so dear and understanding a friend, companion and lover.

Special thanks are also expressed to the many reporters and media who carried our reports and gave attention to what we have shown about California’s fall color.  And, of course to the many tens of thousands of people who have followed and contributed to this site, and our Facebook and Twitter pages.  You are, after all, the reason we do this.

Our first “fall color report” was published on September 12 and our first peak was reported on September 16, a week before the Autumnal Equinox.  Fall color is often reported in California right up to the Winter Equinox and beyond.  We consider that to be proof of our claim that California truly has the longest and most varied season of autumn color in North America.  Indeed, California quite possibly holds the world record.  As one of the few Mediterranean climate regions on Earth, California is able to grow a variety of colorful foliage that provides a spectacle unmatched anywhere.  That, combined with California’s varied terrain and elevations makes our fall color the most varied and long-lasting for leaf peepers, photographers and nature lovers.

Doubting Thomases need only click through any year on the archive, at left, to see the progression of color across The Golden State.  The change of color this past season was particularly magnificent.  It began earlier than in previous years and was long-lasting.  As of today, the show is still progressing, with beautiful color to be seen in the state’s urban forests (San Francisco, the San Francisco Peninsula, South Bay and East Bay, its vineyards, the Gold Country, Central Coast and Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties).  And, it hasn’t ended; the show will continue well into December.

California Fall Color will continue to report color, as it receives reports.  Though, as of today we stop sending weekly updates and photographs to California meteorologists, travel and outdoor writers, until next autumn.

75 – 100% – California – In my heart, it is always peaking.

California Sycamores Dress for Thanksgiving – Go Now!

Wed ,21/11/2012

California Sycamore (historic) Mathias J Alten, University Art Center

California sycamore, platanus racemosa, a native tree common in California’s foothills and along the Central Coast, has been the subject of artist paintbrushes, through the years, for their multiple and scabrous cream to grey trunks and gracefully twisted branches laden with deeply lobed leaves which vary in color from chartreuse to orange-red.  In early autumn the sycamore are the first to decorate woodland floors with their spent, dusty-brown leaves.  In winter, stemless seedballs, carried on stalks, provide interest.

This week, the Santa Ynez Valley News reports the sycamore, along with golden cottonwoods (Californios called them Los Alamos), exotic orange-red liquidambars, burgundy and bronze vineyards and crimson poison oak are dressing the Central Coast in time for Thanksgiving Day dinner.

50 – 75% – Central Coast – Riparian areas along the Central Coast have been nearing peak for the past two weeks and will provide lovely color through the Thanksgiving Day weekend and beyond.

Travel U.S. 101 between Salinas and Ventura along the El Camino Real.   An anonymous color spotter reports, “I did the whole 101 drive from Monterey County to Ventura County yesterday. Vineyards all the way down, have a blend of different shades of fall colors. Brilliant colors like I’ve never seen! … and Paso Robles, Templeton, Atascadero are saturated with bright yellows, reds, oranges. The fall this year in these areas are better than I’ve seen in years. A must see!”  Go Now!

Glimpses of Glory Between the Downpours

Sun ,18/11/2012

Across California, this weekend, fall color glowed between spurts of rainfall.  The cloud cover intensified the color, which was particularly glorious among the urban forests of the Central Valley and Sierra foothills.

Mosaic, McConnell Arboretum and Gardens, Redding (file photo) John Poimiroo

Today, on “Farmer Fred” – a weekly gardening program on Sacramento’s KSTE-650 radio station – Dr. Warren G. Roberts, longtime superintendent of the UC Davis Arboretum, described the spectacle to be seen there, including the Smoke Tree with its ornate clusters of yellow to red to purple smokey blooms, purple raywood ash, flame red Chinese pistache, Roger’s Red – a California wild grape hybrid with bright orange-red leaves, Formosa flame tree with its brilliant red seed pods, native California Toyon – also called Christmas berry or holly  for its crimson berries and dark green leaves – orange/scarlet Washington Hawthorne, golden-buff-colored Mexican feather grass, Greek madrone, autumn sage, and spectacular orange Christmas Cheer.

Botanical gardens provide concentrated and dependable viewing of fall color.  Pick of the week: any of California’s great arboretums.  Among them, we recommend:

  • Blake Garden, Kensington
  • Filoli, Woodside
  • Fullerton Arboretum
  • Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Marino
  • Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
  • Japanese Friendship Garden, Kelley Park, San Jose
  • Los Angeles County Botantical Garden & Arboretum, Arcadia
  • Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, Santa Rosa
  • Manhattan Beach Botanic Garden
  • McConnell Arboretum and Gardens, Redding
  • San Luis Obispo Botanic Garden
  • Quarryhill Botanical Garden, Glen Ellen
  • UC Berkeley Botanic Garden
  • UC Davis Arboretum

One Last Flash

Fri ,16/11/2012

Eastern California Museum, Independence (11/16/12) Jon Klusmire

Jon Klusmire sends this snapshot of a tree whose orange and red leaves have survived recent storms and winds that stripped other nearby trees.

It stands beside the Eastern California Museum in Independence.  Splashes of color like this remain to be seen across the Eastern Sierra during one of the most beautiful and long-lasting autumns we’ve recorded.

California Fall Color ends its daily reporting on Thanksgiving Day, though postings will continue as color is reported across California.