Tracking the fall colours

By Liann Bobechko »Liann Bobechko

October 5th, 2010


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As a kid, one of my jobs for Thanksgiving at the cottage (aside from helping—or, more accurately, getting underfoot—when pulling the boats out of the lake) was to create the centrepiece for the dinner table. I took my assignment very seriously, tromping around in my rubber boots, trying to collect a good range of leaf colours, shapes, and textures, plus whatever leftover timothy, goldenrod, and other fall wildflowers I could find.

I must have been very focussed on the artistic creation, because I don’t think I ever noticed that the leaves of each tree species has its own particular colour palette every fall.

Good thing the fine folks at the Canadian Forest Service have cracked the code. Here’s a cheat sheet, from info posted on the Natural Resources Canada website:

Yellows and browns:

  • Aspen and poplar turn golden yellow
  • Beech turns a light tan
  • Oaks turn red, brown, or russet (and they turn later than others, and sometimes don’t even drop)

Reds and oranges:

  • Dogwood turns purplish red
  • Red maple turns brilliant scarlet
  • Sugar maple turns an orange red

And then there’s elm, whose leaves tend to shrivel and fall, without changing colour at all.

Now, with that under your belt, if you want a sneak peak into what your leaves will be like this weekend, check out these two websites, which offer reports about the changing leaves.

  • For an indication of what the leaves are doing at your cottage, go to the Ontario Parks site for the status of the leaves at your closest provincial parks. Or, plan an outing to the most colourful!
  • Check out the Ontario Fall Colour Report. It gives a report on the changing leaves for regions across the province.
  • The Weather Network offers updates on the fall colours, complete with some ideas for getting out to enjoy them.

Let us know what the leaves are like at your place. Have fun kicking through the leaves this holiday weekend, and don’t forget your rubber boots!


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Liann Bobechko