With the autumnal equinox and official first day of fall just one week away, it already feels like fall here in Western North Carolina. Crisp cool nights and sunny bluebird days are setting up our leaves for another brilliant fall color season. “A few weeks ago the weather transitioned to clear, sunny days–the ideal combination for a really beautiful fall,” said Dr. Howie Neufeld, professor of plant physiology at Appalachian State University. “When people remember a good color season, it is usually because they got those brilliant reds contrasting against the rest of the fall color spectrum. The bi-product of photosynthesis is sugar, and sugar triggers red pigment production. So, these bright sunny days we’re seeing will build up that intense red pigment in the leaves. We’re on course for a colorful fall season,” continued Dr. Neufeld.
Most of the trees are still nice and green, but a few leaves have started to turn here and there, especially up at higher elevations such as Grandfather Mountain. “We’re already starting to see signs of color at the highest elevations here at the end of September,” said Jesse Pope, chief naturalist at Grandfather Mountain. “Our American ash trees are beginning to tinge with purple and the bright red berries on the mountain ashe are putting on a good show.”
Continue reading the weekly fall color report on FallintheMountains.com.