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Early Signs

Chinese pistache, El Dorado Hills (8/15/20) John Poimiroo

Some trees are showing early signs of color change. This is normal.

Sycamore, Chinese pistache, Liquidambar have all exhibited tonal change in summer. In the Sierra foothills, Chinese pistache and sycamore are evolving from green to yellow-green foliage, as seen above.

However, many native oak – responding to record-high, late-summer temperatures, dryness and particulate dust from wildfire smoke are turning brown much earlier than in previous years.

Reports of healthy stands of quaking aspen seen in the Hope Valley and at Lake Tahoe encouraged a suvey of North Lake Tahoe and Truckee this weekend. I found the aspen at Lake Tahoe to be in general good health, though stands surrounding the derelict cabin beside Upper Martis Creek (CA-267) are in trouble.

The aspen at Upper Martis Creek cabin (a favorite spot for wedding photos, portraits and easily accessed fall color) have not been healthy for some years.

I found the small grove surrounding the cabin full of yellow-green leaves, not from early change, but from a lack of nutrients.

Other trees in the grove vary from healthy to deathlike. In some instances holes in leaves indicate that the aspen appear were attacked by insects, while paper-dry brown leaves suggest a lack of water is killing off the aspen. In support of that, the meadow surrounding the cabin is bone dry and crunches when stepped upon, not a good sign for a meadow which should be moist.

That’s unfortunate, as while this is just one small location, it is a popular one for North Tahoe visitors in search of fall color.

0-10% – Just Starting – Sierra Foothills

0-10% – Just Starting – North Lake Tahoe

0-10% – Just Starting – Upper Martis Creek Meadow

0-10% – Just Starting – Blue Oak, Sierra Foothills

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