Amongst the falling leaves, you might discover the frost flowers of dittany (Cunila origanoides). Its former light blue flowers have come and gone, its seed cast to the wind, but from the base of their stems you may be lucky enough to see what looks like curling ribbons of ice, one last gem of their blooming glory, a frost flower. Courtesy of Kathy Phelps.
Fall is a wonderful time to find an amazing array of wildflowers on your national forests and grasslands. But before you venture out, take a moment for a sneak preview on the U.S. Forest Service’s Fall Colors web site for a few ideas to plan your visit
Early morning hikers who are out and about in the hardwood forests of the south-central and eastern United States may be lucky enough to observe the second flowering of dittany (Cunila origanoides). Also known as frost flowers, they are found in late autumn on crisp, frosty mornings. Though they are not true flowers, they are just as beautiful. Read more »
National Scenic Byways offer spectacular views of fall colors, such as Wiseman's View in Linville Gorge on Pisgah National Forest (US Forest Service file photo).
It’s that time of year again to be amazed by a brilliant display of nature—spectacular fall colors in your national forests. The color and beauty of something as simple as a leaf in autumn turns the landscape of many forests into a painter’s pallet of stunning hues of red, yellow and orange. And the U.S. Forest Service wants to help you find the best viewing spots.
Read more »
Maple leaves of many colors offer an unending palette of color in the United States Department of Agriculture, U. S. Forest Service, Hiawatha National Forest on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
U.S. Forest Service research indicates that climate change will affect habitat suitability for maple trees, threatening the multimillion dollar maple syrup industry. Changes in climate have already had an impact on the iconic sugar maple trees of the Northeastern U.S.
Flow of maple sap, which is boiled down to make syrup, is controlled by alternating freezing and thawing cycles in the late winter. Maple trees also rely on snowpack during this time to protect their roots from freezing. Read more »
Recreationalist enjoying fall at Cheoah Point in the Cheoah Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest
The US Forest Service has launched a Leaf Viewing in Western North Carolina webpage for 2012 featuring scenic drives and areas in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests for enjoying fall foliage. Visitors to the site will see pictures and get directions to enjoy the kaleidoscope of glorious leaf colors North Carolina has to offer.
Leaf Viewing in Western North Carolina describes the types of mountain trees that visitors will see during peak season at high, middle and low elevations. For example, the Cherohala Skyway in Graham County enables travelers to enjoy a variety of colorful, high-elevation trees in late September. Read more »
Fothergilla leaves make the transition from green to red in the National Herb Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum. (Photo credit U.S. National Arboretum)
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Like a lot of people, I remember being taught when I was young that the brilliant autumn foliage of deciduous trees was caused by the cold temperatures of autumn frosts. I believed this until I became a horticulturist, studying the intricate system that plants use to prepare for winter’s harsh weather. Where I work, at the U.S. National Arboretum, we grow about 10,000 different kinds of trees and shrubs and have an overwhelming variety of fall color right now. Read more »