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It All Begins at 1:02 p.m. Today

Autumn begins throughout California at 1:02 p.m.

That’s when the autumnal equinox occurs, starting a new astronomical season. At that moment, the sun’s rays are almost equally divided between the northern and southern hemisphere.

Thereafter and continuing to the winter solstice on Dec. 21, days get shorter and colder, as the amount of sunlight reaching the northern hemisphere declines.

Less light results in less chlorophyll being produced in deciduous plants. As the green chlorophyl subsides underlying brown, red, orange and yellow colors are seen. Colder temperatures also intensify red, orange and yellow colors. Though, eventually, the leaves weaken and fall.

Autumn is the only season with two names: Autumn and Fall. It gets the latter from those falling leaves.

Many believe California’s best weather occurs in autumn. Days remain clement, but nights are cooler. There’s a crispness in the air, but also a soothing envelopment that almost feels as if you’re being embraced by the season.

Why is it that there is such celebration when pumpkin-spiced lattes return to cafe menus in autumn?  Is it their taste, or the recollections of this gathering season that they inspire?

Autumn is the season of harvest, reunion, tailgating, wine making, costume parties, sweaters and thanksgiving. Though it would not be what it is, without Fall.

Over the past couple of days, snow has fallen in the High Sierra. Several of you have asked what effect the early snow might have on autumn color. The answer is: “Little to No Effect.”

Snow usually only damages the change of color on leaves that have turned color or have nearly turned color. Leaves that are vibrant and still producing chlorophyl shake off a little snow with no effect on the color. However, were the same to occur at an elevation that was near peak to peak, leaves in the process of turning would either be spotted or blown from their branches.

Rock Creek Canyon (9/22/17) Will Ridgeway

Rock Creek Canyon (9/22/17) Will Ridgeway

Will Ridgeway took these photographs near Rock Creek Pack Station yesterday morning.

He writes that “The snow on green Aspen leaves makes it look like we’re going straight from Summer to Winter, though that’s temporary.

“That said, there was a good amount of colour above Lake Sabrina this morning, roughly equal parts green, yellow and orange depending on the location of each grove.” he describes.

Lake Sabrina – Near Peak (75-100%) – Will Ridgeway rates the upper groves high above Sabrina Lake near 10,000′ in elevation as nearing peak. GO NOW!

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County (9/22/17) Bruce Wendler

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County – Patchy (10-50%) – Color spotter Bruce Wendler found “the first fire of autumn” lighting the hills around Sagehen Meadow, south of Mono Lake. Frigid temperatures are stimulating vibrant color change in high areas of Mono County.

Unidentified exotic tree, Downtown LA near Fig Plaza (9/21/17) Mohammad Delwar

Los Angeles – Just Starting (0-10%) – Often what appears to be autumnal change is not exactly the same thing. Del Hossain saw this blooming tree in downtown Los Angeles yesterday and had the presence of mind to photograph it and ask if it might be fall color.

This is one of the myriad of non-native (or exotic) trees that have been planted in our urban forests. It has a flower or seed pod (similar to a Bougainvillea bloom) that Del described as “a splash of pinks, reds,or orangish”.

What is most important is that Del turned a break while working in the heart of Los Angeles (Downtown Magnets High School – Go Suns!) into an inspirational fall color sojourn.  Fall color creds to anyone who can identify the tree, and to Del for sharing.

Color Everywhere, Even in LA

Los Angeles (10/3/16) Mark DeVitre

Los Angeles (10/3/16) Mark DeVitre

Color is appearing all over California, even in Los Angeles.

Mark DeVitre posted this harlequin-toned tree in The Big Orange, only this tree had purple, blue, yellow, red, green, orange… you name it.

Los Angeles has a long way to go until peak, but individual trees, like this one, will peak on their own timetable.  L.A. is normally, a November peak.  So, we’ll declare Angeltown to be Just Starting.

Los Angeles (Sea Level), Just Starting (0-10%)

Clear
Monday
Clear
High 82°/Low 50°
Clear
Tuesday
Clear
High 83°/Low 49°
Clear
Wednesday
Clear
High 81°/Low 48°
Clear
Thursday
Clear
High 78°/Low 49°
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L.A. Has Rolled Out The Red Carpet

Liquidambar (June) Leaf Peeper

Liquidambar, Los Angeles (6/14/16) Leaf Peeper

Liquidambar, Los Angeles (6/14/16) Leaf Peeper

Liquidambar, Los Angeles (8/10/16) Leaf Peeper

I hesitated posting the top left photo received from Leaf Peeper when it arrived in June.

This is the same tree Leaf Peeper has submitted previously in summer, making it the third year that a Los Angeles tree gets attention for early color.

Now, this just may be that this tree shows red color in its uppermost branches and isn’t really changing color, though we’d need a tree expert to say.

Nevertheless, color is color and with Leaf Peeper’s report, Los Angeles again gets the nod for being the first to roll out the red carpet.

On Sunday, I head to the Eastern Sierra to check out Bishop Creek Canyon, Mammoth Lakes and U.S. 395 through Inyo and Mono Counties, and will report on what’s showing after returning on Thursday.

If you’re in the area, I’ll be talking to businesses about fall color and how to better serve fall color viewers in Bishop on Monday and Mammoth Lakes on Tuesday, sponsored by the local visitors bureaus.

Just Starting (0-10%) – Los Angeles County

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Going To Town in Los Angeles

Undisclosed Colorful Locale in Los Angeles (11/23/15) LA Leaf Peeper

Undisclosed Colorful Locale in Los Angeles (11/23/15) LA Leaf Peeper

Los Angeles color spotter “LA Leaf Peeper” (actual name withheld to prevent paparazzi from hounding this celebrity), reports that fall color is now “going to town” throughout the City of Angels.

LA Leaf Peeper has been the first anywhere in California to report fall color for the past two years and though this LA “star’s” reports are few, they include insights to the status of fall color in tinseltown.

We’re sure Extra, Inside Edition, the National Enquirer or TMZ will want to know that turned leaves are still hanging from the early-showing liquidambar that LA Leaf Peeper alerted us to in August.  Though now, all LA’s deciduous trees are lit up brighter than the red carpet at the Dolby Theater on Oscar night.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Los Angeles 

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Brown is the New Orange ;)

Huge trees at the LA County Arboretum (see people in lower right) start to turn colorful (10/29/14) Frank McDonough

Huge trees at the LA County Arboretum (see people in lower right) start to turn colorful (10/29/14) Frank McDonough

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden (Patchy – 10 – 50%) – Color spotter Frank McDonough estimates the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is about a third of the way to peak, moving it from Just Starting to Patchy. McDonough said it’s hard to determine how the fall color will develop though, with an Emoji wink, he writes, “If brown is a fall color then it should be spectacular.”  The LA County Arboretum is a great place to see lots of trees at different stages of color change and is often the last reporting area of fall color in California.

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Good Advice, Great Sunsets!

Autumn Sunset, San Bernardino Mountains (10/19/14) Nick Barnhart

Autumn Sunset, San Bernardino Mountains (10/19/14) Nick Barnhart

The Los Angeles Times, took our advice and recommended trips this past weekend to the San Bernardino Mountains.  Turns out, it was good advice, as evidenced by the spectacular shot of Rim of the World (between Lake Gregory and Lake Arrowhead) that Nick Barnhart captured on Sunday.

CLICK HERE for a link to the LA Times’ article.

UPDATE: 10/22/14

Here’s another lovely sunset of the San Bernardino Mountains taken by Nick Barnhart last evening.  I have to ask after seeing Nick’s great photographs (and I’ve photographed sunsets in So. Calif.), “Why go to the beach?”

Running Springs (10/21/14) Nick Barnhart

Running Springs (10/21/14) Nick Barnhart

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LA Lights Up Following Cooler Weather and Rain

California Wild Grape, Baldwin Lagoon, LA Co. Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

California Wild Grape, Baldwin Lagoon, LA Co. Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Colder temperatures and light rain have caused an intensification of color across Los Angeles County, as evidenced by these photos provided by Frank McDonough a botanical information consultant at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Gardens.

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Los Angeles County – Reports from Southern California indicate perfect fall color conditions with crystal clear skies and bright color.

San Gabriel Mountains, seen from Talac Knoll (11/22/13)

San Gabriel Mountains, seen from Talac Knoll (11/22/13)

Gingko tree, near Rose Garden (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Gingko tree, near Rose Garden (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Crepe myrtle and Sumac at LA Co. Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Crepe myrtle and Sumac at LA Co. Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Los Angeles County Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Los Angeles County Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

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Warm, Dry Year Slows Southland Show

Pomegranate Bush and Japanese Maple (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

Pomegranate Bush and Japanese Maple (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

Color spotter Frank McDonough of the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens attributes a warm, dry year to “erratic” fall color.  That certainly could be the case, though the spots of color provided to us by Frank show bright and intense color at the Arboretum, so far.  Also, this week we received shots from Mt. Palomar that showed long-lasting color among the oaks.  We’re betting that LA County will continue to develop into December.

Eastern Red Oak, LA County Arboretum (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

Eastern Red Oak, LA County Arboretum (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

GO NOW! 50 – 75% – LA County Arboretum – Warm, dry weather has tricked the trees, causing them to show sporadically and late in Southern California.

Tulip tree, LA County Arboretum (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

Tulip tree, LA County Arboretum (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Flame leafed sumac and Nandina domestica (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Flame leafed sumac and Nandina domestica (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

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Exotic Species Color Up in LA & Orange Counties

Crepe myrtles, Bauer Lawn, LA County Arboretum  (11/4/13) Frank McDonough

Crepe myrtles, Bauer Lawn, LA County Arboretum (11/4/13) Frank McDonough

California Fall Color has observed over the years that species change color according to their own internal clock.  That’s certainly occurring at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Arcadia, where Frank McDonough reports the color change there “has been sporadic and uneven.”

Crepe myrtle, lagerstroemia indica (11/4/13) Frank McDonough

Crepe myrtle, lagerstroemia indica (11/4/13) Frank McDonough

The most reliable species, Ginkgo biloba and Liquidambar, “have yet to reach full color.”

Color spotter Son H. Nguyen posted the following montage on Facebook and commented, “Liquidambar is amazing in Orange County right now. I’ve never seen them this beautiful before. I’ve only seen them mostly turn yellow. But this year, there are many different hue from orange, yellow, red, deep red and even pink.”

Liquidambar (11/4/13) Son H Nguyen

Liquidambar (11/4/13) Son H Nguyen

Though, McDonough cautions that Liquidambars “have been under attack” from a combination of a  new pest, the Polyphagous shot hole borer, and a new disease to Southern California, Bacterial Leaf Scorch, “that may eliminate them from the Southern California landscape.”

Tulip tree, liriodendron tulipifera (11/4/13) Frank McDonough

Tulip tree, liriodendron tulipifera (11/4/13) Frank McDonough

Liquidambar have one of the more dramatic displays of flame orange, yellow and red and are a favorite of landscapers.  Sadly, due to pests and diseases, Frank opins that “this may be one of the last years to see them turn color, here.”  Until that happens, head to Southern California’s arboretums for the best in So. Cal.

Japanese birch, betula maximowicziana and Japanese fountain grass (11/4/13) Frank McDonough

Japanese birch, betula maximowicziana and Japanese fountain grass (11/4/13) Frank McDonough

California wild grape (11/4/13 Frank McDonough

California wild grape (11/4/13 Frank McDonough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honey locust, Gleditsia triacanthos (11/7/13) Frank McDonough

Honey locust, Gleditsia triacanthos (11/7/13) Frank McDonough

Japanese birch, betula maximowicziana and crepe myrtle (11/7/13) Frank McDonough

Japanese birch, betula maximowicziana and crepe myrtle (11/7/13) Frank McDonough

Honey locust, LA County Arboretum (11/7/13) Frank McDonough

Honey locust, LA County Arboretum (11/7/13) Frank McDonough

GO NOW! – 50 – 75% – LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens – Crepe myrtle are at peak; tulip tree are 30 – 50% of peak near the tram stop; Japanese birch are magnificent near the turtle pond; California wild grape near the tule pond are now yellow and will soon be brilliant red.

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Los Angeles County – Exotic Sweet Gum (liquidambar) are at peak in gardens and along streets throughout Los Angeles County.  Pests and disease are afflicting the trees, however, which may not survive another year.  So, go now to enjoy their display of varied color.

LA Times Gives CalifFallColor A Nod

Chris Erskine of the travel desk at the LA Times posted a nod to California Fall Color for our reporting of what’s happening at Mammoth Lakes this week.  CLICK HERE to read the story.