A Feast of Thanksgiving Day Color

A cornucopia of color among Napa's vines (File Photo) - John Poimiroo

The vibrant colors of autumn will be spread across dining room tables today, throughout California, as families and friends gather to commemorate their Thanksgiving Day.  The weather today will be clear and crisp… a good day to venture out bundled up for a cold autumn walk to enjoy the last glimpses of what has been a long-lasting fall color season.

California’s three-month display of fall color has now descended to sea level.  As, above 2,000 ft, particularly in Northern California, there’s a blanket of snow and ice.  Look for vibrant colors in Northern and Southern California city forests, the parks and landscaped boulevards that provide such varied displays of fall color.  Fall color showed a bit later and has been longer lasting than in the past two years.  The Napa and Sonoma County vineyards still have splashes of red, orange and yellow, though most of the autumn color has dropped.

So many varieties of colorful plants glow in this Mediterranean climate, that California has truly earned title as the having the longest-lasting and most diverse display of autumn color in America.  The display began even before the autumnal equinox, in the high reaches of the Eastern Sierra and has, since, descended at an approximate pace of dropping a thousand feet in elevation, since.  And so, unlike other areas of the country where if you weren’t there exactly when it turned, the color disappeared, in California color can be seen peaking at various elevations from mid September through mid December.

75% to Past Peak — Urban Forests.  Bold, orange persimmon fruit hang from their trees’ branches in urban and suburban gardens.  Liquidambar styraciflua put on their firey appearance.  Chinese pistache are largely past peak now, though an occasional specimen still carries its orange to yellow leaves.  The vines, wisteria and parthenocissus are turning soft yellow to blends of red, orange gold amidst the green, to provide the final flashes of color in this Golden State.

This blog marks the final official California Fall Color posting of 2010’s autumn.  We will likely add other occasional reports on California color, as they are received (such as our mid winter report on desert flowers), but like the autumn leaves, we’re now Past Peak.  Our thanks to all those California color spotters who reported color appearing in their area of California.  Please return to visit us again next autumn.  Happy Thanksgiving!