It’s Officially “Leafer Season” in Iowa
The word "Leafer" is defined by Merriam Webster as a person who visits wooded areas in autumn to view the changing colors of the foliage.
It’s now officially autumn, which means warm days, cool nights, and soon -- an abundance of color. According to the Iowa DNR, sumac, dogwood, and Virginia creeper have already started turning red, while the first oranges and yellows are beginning to show up across northern Iowa.
But, due to the drought and heat of summer, some trees have already started dropping their leaves, including some elm, maple, walnut, cottonwood, and others.
Growing up in the Northeast corner of the state and witnessing the spectacular color change every fall, I would highly suggest a trip to Pike’s Peak in McGregor, Effigy Mounds National Monument near Harpers Ferry, Mt. Hosmer in Lansing, Palisades Park in Decorah, or anywhere along the mighty Mississippi River.
I snapped this photo on October 11, 2020, at Palisades Park:
So, which trees turn which color in the fall?
Per the Iowa DNR:
Green ash leaves turn yellow, but white ash has a purplish cast. The leaves fall after those of walnut trees, but earlier than those of oaks and maples.
Elm leaves turn various shades of yellow with some turning brown before falling, others falling while still yellow.
Leaves turn yellow on hickory trees, then brown before falling.
The leaves of soft (silver) maples turn yellow but do not turn brown before falling.
Brilliant flame red hues are the signature of hard maple leaves. The red pigmentation of some leaves breaks down before falling.
Buff to yellow colors predominates in bur oaks. The leaves remain on the tree and turn brown before falling.
The red oaks have brilliant red leaves in fall though the color is probably not as intense as that of some hard maples.
White oaks have a more subdued purple fall leaf color. The leaves then turn brown and often stay on the tree until new leaves begin to grow in the spring.
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Snake Alley in Burlington, IA