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Color change: Creeping in

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Color change is well underway in the North Woods and the first signs are beginning here, and the Morton Arboretum in Lisle is beginning its annual color update for those who savor the change in Chicago outdoors this time of year.


Not just things like trees, but Virginia creepers (above) are some of the first to change.

For a weekly report go to or call (630) 719-7955.

Here is the complete announcment from the Morton Arboretum:


Wide Variety Of Native, Exotic Trees Creates Multiple "Peak" Viewing Weeks

LISLE, IL (September 27, 2010) - Fall just began dishing up its annual eye candy with trees displaying hints of yellows, oranges, reds, and purples; and with wildflowers blooming in between the trees at The Morton Arboretum. Seventeen hundred beautiful acres feature 186,000 trees and other plants formally registered into the living collections, plus thousands more in the woodlands. With trees from 40 countries, it's like a world of fall color, all in one place. And something is peaking every week in autumn.

"The wide variety of trees from around the world extends the color season's length and provides a broader array of colors to enjoy," says Ed Hedborn, Arboretum botanist and "Fall Color Scout." His weekly reports on the tree museum's changing hues are available via and 630-719-7955.

The Arboretum hosts rare exotics including maples native to Europe, Korea, China and Japan; hornbeams native to Europe and Iran; oaks native to Asia; beeches native to Crimea; zelkovas native to Azerbaijan; and many other species that aren't found in most parks, forest preserves, or city blocks in the Midwest.

Maples now show a glimmer of red, leading Hedborn to say it's time to start taking walks between the Maple and Beech collections to view the colors as they change daily. Also, sumacs are well on their way to full blown red color, hackberries are turning yellow, Virginia creeper shows hints of purple and red, and pawpaw is becoming yellow.

Refusing to be outdone by the beautiful, colorful leaves, lovely flowers are blooming now including blue asters, white snakeroot, and goldenrods.

In early October, expect the kings of fall color, the sugar maples, to bring yellows, oranges, and reds to the landscape. Also turning a variety of colors are katsura, corktree, Kentucky coffeetree, redbud, green ash, white ash, larches, beeches, and Japanese maples.

Through mid-October, look for sugar, silver, Freeman, Miyabei, and red maples; along with hickories, bur oak, persimmon, sassafras, lindens, and black gum to be the "scene stealers." Hickories, cherries, hazelnuts, and witch-hazels are also in color.

In late October and early November, check out the white oaks turning wine purple, pin and red oaks becoming red, and the callery and Ussurian pear trees bringing up the rear, holding onto their colors until the frost.

Fall Color at The Morton Arboretum is a multi-sensory experience extending beyond the full palette of colors to see. "Shuffle your feet through the fallen leaves. The experience takes you back to childhood. And take a deep breath near the katsuras, which smell like cotton candy," Hedborn says. Some believe sassafras smells like citrus, mint, or root beer; and others describe the aroma from spruces simply as incredible.

Visitors can hike the 16 miles of trails, drive or bicycle the nine miles of roads, or catch an Arboretum tram to take in the stunning vistas.

The best chance for spectacular color would come with a repeated combination of bright, sunny, warm days and cool nights. Plants use environmental clues such as shortening day length to get ready for winter, shutting down before the ground freezes. The fall color we see is part of this normal process.

The Arboretum provides various fun, family activities to make lasting memories in trees and nature, including outdoor theater, creatively-decorated scarecrows, and "Trick or Trees" in the award-winning Children's Garden.

The Morton Arboretum is a world-renowned leader in tree science and education, working to save and plant trees. The 1,700-acre outdoor museum features magnificent collections of 4,117 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum's beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission - the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Rte. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. Central Time until sunset. The Children's Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., March through October, and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., November through February. Visit Press Room at, call to learn more.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on September 28, 2010 6:39 AM.

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