Falling leaves are messy before colorful.

Autumn color is different every year. Sometimes, early and sudden cool weather after a mild summer promotes good foliar color that lingers longer while relaxed trees slowly realize that they should probably start to defoliate. Sometimes, early wind and rain accelerate defoliation of otherwise good color. There are a few variables that trees must adapt their performance to.

Warm and arid weather two weeks ago started the process of defoliation suddenly and a maybe slightly early this year. Even before the weather gets cool, deciduous trees are already starting to shed the oldest of their foliage that they do not need in order to hold their youngest foliage a bit later into autumn. Evergreen trees do the same to limit desiccation.

Slightly breezy weather that was so pleasant after such heat was just enough to start dislodging deteriorating foliage. Now, leaves are already starting to fall before they develop much color. Redwoods and pines are likewise dropping browned needles. Fortunately, trees that are the most colorful in autumn tend to hold their foliage better until the weather gets cooler.

It is impossible to predict how colorful trees will be this autumn; although if storms are as healthy as predicted, the mild temperatures may inhibit color, while wind and rain dislodge colorful foliage. Regardless, it is already time to start raking falling leaves and needles. They can get messy, and when the rain starts, they can stain pavement and clog gutters.

When more foliage falls later in autumn, it will need to be raked from ground cover, surviving portions of lawn, and any other plants that collect it, so that it does not shade out the sunlight.

6 thoughts on “Leaves Are Starting To Fall

  1. I’ve noticed in the past few days that the cypress trees here are beginning to turn. Their russet needles are one of our few dependable fall colors. Some years, they’ll all drop their needles almost simultaneously. They can be fully leaved in the morning, and drop all their needles by noon.

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    1. Are they the bald cypress? That is the only deciduous cypress I know of. There are only two here, as well as a dawn redwood. Because they are so rare here, those who see them discolor think that they are dead.


  2. I imagine you will be glad that trees are left with leaves to drop after the recent fires.

    The most colourful tree I’ve seen locally dropped all its leaves before I could get a decent picture. I was surprised how quickly they fell.

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    1. Wow, this is early for defoliation. I sort of appreciate the mild climate here, and the later defoliation. However, this year, I think the trees would be less stressed if they defoliated early. Some look rather unhappy about the earlier warm and dry weather. Some canned trees got stressed while we were unable to water them during evacuation. There are a few canned birches and maples here that will not be planted until the rain starts.


    1. Some trees innately defoliate slowly anyway. Maples tend to defoliate efficiently, and can defoliate within a few days if they get chilled at night, and then warm during the day, or if they get battered by wind and rain. However, the native valley oaks here defoliate all winter!

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