Fall colors behind schedule: 'Don't give up hope'
Tree experts say leaves in no rush to show their true colors
Picture Perfect Fall Leaf Color
By Joan Cary, Special to the Tribune
Lovers of fall color might want to relax and kick back this year. The trees are in no hurry to turn, letting us experience what experts call "a protracted fall."
"During some falls we get multiple species all in color at the same time, but this year we are slow getting started and it's going to be more prolonged," said Boyce Tankersley of the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. "You won't get the Kodak moment, where it's all in color on the same day."
Tankersley said fall color is about a week behind schedule after the mild start to autumn, but last week's cooler weather will help plants turn the corner.
"We're a little more subdued compared to some previous years, but if the weather behaves (and) we get warm sunny days and chilly night temps, we'll be good," said Kunso Kim, head of collections and curator at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. "The trees are waiting. Don't give up hope."
Jeff Brink, senior city forester for Chicago, likens this year's gradual change to an airline pilot making a slow, smooth descent as opposed to a quick drop and sudden landing. As long as temperatures gently decline, all will be well, he said.
Moderate, steady rain is expected to last through Thursday, but the Chicago area shouldn't get heavy rains that knock down leaves. Dry weather is predicted for Friday, reports WGN-TV meteorologist Richard Koeneman.
A quick turn to severe cold weather can bring down leaves before they change color, which is what happened to some of the highly sensitive ginkgo trees at the Morton Arboretum that can defoliate in two days with the onset of heavy frost, Kim said.
Meanwhile, the comments keep coming that the fall color hasn't appeared with a dramatic bang, Tankersley said.
"The good news is that just gives us more days to appreciate it," he said. "Winter will be here soon enough."
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