Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 30, 2016

North Carolina Fall Color 8/28/16

Appalachian University has its first fall color report of the season

Some trees begin turning color in August, such as sugar and red maples, and even dogwoods. Others, like buckeyes and birches and cherries start to drop leaves in late summer. But this happens every year, so I’m not worried. The maples do perplex me though, as they also hold on to their leaves late into the fall color season. I guess it reflects either genetic variation, local habitat conditions, or perhaps horticultural varieties that have been planted in cities (some red maples are bred for their fall color especially and may turn unusually early, particularly if they come from the north).

But the hillsides are still dominated by GREEN. If you want to watch the color change here in Boone, you can go to various webcams, but I suggest you watch our new webcam, which I installed this summer on the outskirts of Boone, and which is focused on a young forest. It is part of a nationwide forest monitoring program known as PhenoCam (, run out of Harvard University, and which uses video images from cameras all around the country to determine if there are any changes in the timing of leaf flushing, duration, and loss in the fall. You can see the images for our Boone site at this web address: and for all sites at this website: Our new webcam is courtesy of a National Science Foundation Grant that my colleague, Dr. Zack Murrell, and I received this year in conjunction with three other schools: UNC-Asheville, Warren Wilson College, and East Tennessee State University. Each of those universities also has a webcam which is part of the PhenoCam network. Your tax dollars doing great environmental research!! Thanks!

For those wondering when to see colors, know that they start first at the highest elevations and then work their way down with time. At Grandfather Mt. State Park, trees will begin changing in late September at the upper elevations, and by mid-October will be peaking at about 3,500’ elevation, and at lower elevations, such as around Asheville at 2,400’, in late October. You can get a rough idea of when colors peak by going to my fall color page at this address and accessing the fall color map: and for map:…/fall-color-map-north-carolina.

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