The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

October 8, 2012

Ask the Corps: Fall leaves

PELLA — The first and second week in October should offer the best times for a colorful fall drive around the lake.  At the time of this writing during the last week of September, the colors of the trees really started to pop -   the yellows, reds and other leaf hues became more vivid, but still hadn’t reached their full potential.  

Leaf color depends on factors such as tree species and environmental factors including daytime and nighttime temperatures, amount of sunny days versus cloudy days, soil moisture and others.   Wind conditions and a killing frost can also change the condition and length of the display.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau, here is a basic list of fall color for several area tree species:

Ash:  Green ash leaves turn yellow, but White Ash has a purplish cast.  The leaves fall after those of walnut leaves, but earlier than those of oaks and maples.

Bur Oak:  Buff to yellow colors predominate in bur oaks.  The leaves remain on the tree and turn brown before falling.

Elms:  Elm Leaves turn various shades of yellow with some turning brown before falling, others falling while still yellow.

Hickory: Leaves turn yellow on hickory trees, then turn brown before falling.

Maple (Soft): The leaves of soft (silver) maples turn yellow but do not turn brown before falling.

Maple (Hard): Brilliant flame red hues are the signature of hard maple leaves.  The red pigmentation of some leaves breaks down before falling.

Oak (Red): The red oaks have brilliant red leaves in fall though the color is probably not as intense as that of some hard maples.

Oak (White): White oaks have a more subdued purple fall leaf color.  The leaves then turn brown and often stay on the tree until new leaves begin to grow in the spring.

For a nice fall foliage tour of the lake, check out the forests along the north side of the lake off of County Highway G-28, or take a look at the wooded bluffs along the lake’s west side visible from a walk along the shore or by visiting lake access points such as the boat ramps at Cordova County Park and Elk Rock State Park.  Another great spot is from the top of the Cordova Park’s observation tower – it offers a bird’s eye view of the fall scenery.

For more information, call the Corps office at (641) 828-7522 or (641) 628-8690.

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