Holcomb Tree Trail fall color

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Sometimes, we just get lucky.

This fall, conditions have been close to ideal for brilliant leaf color at Holcomb Farm. According to the U.S. Forest Service, warm sunny days and cool, but not freezing nights make for the best color. Soil moisture, temperature and weather are also factors. As daylight wanes, chlorophyll production drops, and two colorful pigments in the leaves are revealed. These pigments are the anthocyanins (purple, red, crimson), and the carotenoids (yellow and orange).

Each tree species sports different colors. Red maple—the most common species in Connecticut—flaunts a brilliant scarlet; sugar maple an orange-red. Dogwoods are purplish-red, and sourwoods and tupelos are a bright crimson, sometimes with hints of purple and even orange. Sassafras can be bright yellow, red or orange, or all three on the same tree.

The Tree Trail has all of these. The photos accompanying this text show the typical colors for the species. Good fall color is one of the traits sought when trees are chosen for planting. The mature trees, especially the maples, offer a spectacular background for the 80 or so trees planted by volunteers since October 2018.

Black tupelo
Red maple
Kousa dogwood
Sugar maples
Gray birch
Photos by Eric Lukingbeal