“Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the nation,” so says a new DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources) website in promoting the new interactive map highlighting hot spots for color. NEPA’s color is astounding given the varied terrain that our region sports. From yellows and oranges to deep red and dark purple, the leaf color range is pretty wide.
How do leaves change color? According to DCNR, for years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that happen to trees and shrubs in autumn. Although we don’t know all the details, we know enough to explain the basics. Three factors influence autumn color — leaf pigments, length of night, and weather, but not quite in the way we’ve been told. The timing of color change and leaf fall are primarily regulated by the increasing length of night. None of the other environmental influences-temperature, rainfall, food supply, and so on, are as unvarying as the steadily increasing length of night during autumn. As days grow shorter and nights grow longer and cooler, biochemical processes in the leaf begin to paint the landscape with nature’s autumn palette.
Click on this link to check out the map: http://maps.dcnr.pa.gov/storymaps/fallfoliage/
Also, you can get great ideas for leaf peeper road trips at: https://visitpa.com/pa-road-trips/leaf-peepers-pocono-mountains courtesy of the PA state tourism folks.
You most likely have seen that the timing of the color change varies by species. Blackgum begins to show brilliant scarlet branches in late August and the related dogwood is draped in brick-red by mid-September. Maples become red and orange in late September and early October. But oaks only put on their colors long after maples have shed their leaves. In most years, northern PA counties reach their best autumn color October 1-10. Central counties are at their peak October 10-20 and south central and southeastern PA have the most color October 20-31.
Pumpkins are believed to have originated in North America. Seeds from related plants have been found in Mexico dating back to 7000 to 5500 B.C. References to pumpkins date back many centuries. The name pumpkin originated from the Greek word for “large melon” which is “pepon.” “Pepon” was changed by the French into “pompon.” The English changed “pompon” to “Pumpion.” American colonists changed “pumpion” into “pumpkin.” Pumpkin flowers are edible and 80% of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October.
“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” — Emily Bronte
“Porcupine Pat” McKinney is environmental education coordinator for the Schuylkill Conservation District and provides programming for people of all ages with an emphasis on schools, public programming and nature center development. “Porcupine Pat” hails from Marion, Ohio and has a BS with Distinction in Natural Resources – Environmental Interpretation from Ohio State. He is a recipient of the prestigious Sandy Cochran Award for Excellence in Natural Resources Education from the PA Forestry Association, the Schuylkill Pride Award, and the PAEE “Outstanding Environmental Educator Award.”