Fall foliage about to reach peak

Published 10:31 am Monday, October 13, 2014

CLEVELAND (AP) — Autumn colors are expected to approach their peak throughout Ohio in the next few weeks.

Casey Burdick, the fall color forester for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, says mid- to late October is generally prime leaf-peeping season in the state.

“We’re pretty much on time,” Burdick said last week.

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Trees at the edge of woodlands and along roadways are the most colorful right now because of their exposure to the elements, including sunshine, Burdick said.

The best recipe for vibrant fall colors are sunny days and cold but not freezing nights, according to Burdick.

Bountiful sunshine helps maple trees trap extra sugar inside their leaves, producing eye-pleasing shades of bright red and orange. The breakdown of the sugars produced by chlorophyll otherwise change leaves to their default color of yellow in autumn. Leaves from sycamore and poplar trees always turn yellow, she said.

Ohio enjoys colorful fall foliage because of the state’s variety of deciduous trees — species that shed their leaves.

“We’re pretty lucky in that area,” Burdick said.

Leaves on deciduous trees change color and scatter to the whims of wind and weather as cellular activity declines within trees and they go into their own form of hibernation.

“The tree is pretty much done producing the food it needs for the year,” Burdick said. “The sugar is being stored within the tree and root system to prepare itself for winter.”