Early Color

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).

6 replies
  1. Ben says:

    I found your website about a year ago and I really enjoy it. I love fall colors. There is a ton of fall color in Berkeley right now. Does that count?

    It started extremely early (possibly late July before Aug 1). Some of the trees showing colors are non native. Lots of red on the sweetgums, the japanese maples are turning, yellow on pistache, yellow gingkos, and various others. However I also noticed the big leaf maples are already turning yellow in the city and in the Berkeley HIlls/Tilden Park. Lots of red in Tilden park in bushes and others things as well. Black oaks started showing some color about 2 weeks ago.

    I moved to Berkeley last September and I don’t remember seeing color at that time but maybe I’m wrong. Some nights have been in the mid/low 50s maybe thats a little cool idk. Is this common in August here? Either way its freaking sweet 🙂 Should I send pics your way?

  2. Rebecca says:

    So glad to see this post! I regularly come here and was hoping to see info about early color. I live in the Bay Area, and here the Pistaches are starting to turn. Some maples are greed and red combos – not a lot of yellow. I was in Carmel, CA today and their maples are turning as well. Thought it was bizarre since it’s only August, but your post made a lot of sense. I will try to get some pics if anyone is interested.

    • Editor says:

      Thanks so much for the report, Rebecca. This is one of the earliest years we’ve reported. Send photos, if you have them. Great stuff!

  3. Esther J. Williams says:

    I was just in Aspendell painting several landscapes this weekend,I was shocked at the yellow Aspen leaves on the ground already after a windy night. I took a few home in a notebook. I was just trying to plan a fall weekend to go back up there. Looks like I better plan it for early to mid October.

    • Editor says:


      I’m just about to post a report on the Eastern Sierra which is coloring up very early this year. Thanks for your report and send photos when you have them.

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