Friday, September 16, 2011

With weekend cold snap, a fall leaf preview

As if cued by today's cold snap, the U.S. Forest Service has unveiled an online leaf-viewing page with tips on where to see the best color in the national forests of western North Carolina.

Don't get excited yet, warns service botanist Gary Kauffman. It's still early in leaf season. Kauffman, who works in Asheville, said mountain sourwoods and dogwoods, with their bronze leaves, are beginning to turn. Goldenrod patches and asters splash the hills with yellow and purple.

"If it stays sunny during the day, and gets cold at night and stays cold, (color) is going to come on faster," Kauffman says.

A dry spring and summer, which parts of the mountains have experienced, intensifies sugars in leaves, he says. That make fall colors glow once chlorophyll, the green pigment in leaves, breaks down. Fall weather that's neither too dry nor wet and windy shows the best leaf color.

The Forest Service site details scenic roads at low, medium and high elevations in the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, which cover about 1 million acres of the N.C. mountains. Use it as a companion to Observer travel editor John Bordsen's own leaf-viewing picks, and savor the season.


Anonymous said...

It really wasn't much of a cold snap.

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