Autumn Lemon Yellow

For the past couple of weeks I’ve stood in the milk room door watching the far hill summer green turn to yellow green. Now the hickories are lemon yellow.

A number of trees turn yellow in the fall. Pawpaws are one. Some maples do. Only hickories turn a glowing lemon yellow.

lemon yellow leaves make hickory trees stand out
Hickories are one of the first trees to don fall colors. Their bright lemon yellow makes them easy to spot in the woods or on the pasture edges.

The hills around us are mostly a mix of oak and hickory trees. A few persimmon, black walnut, hackberry, slippery elm and Ohio buckeye are scattered mostly at the edges of the pastures. Dogwood and redbud are tucked into the spaces under the taller trees.

The dogwoods turn a reddish purple and have been working on it for a couple of weeks. Persimmons turn yellow, but have so many black spots on their leaves the yellow seems an afterthought. Black walnuts turn yellow, but drop their leaves early. Yellow hackberry leaves are nearly transparent.

dogwood tree in fall colors
Most wild dogwood trees are tucked into the woods. This one grew up on a hill cleared for pasture and became a lovely tree no matter what the season.

Oaks are an odd bunch. In moist years their leaves turn a dusty red. In drier years they turn brown. As last year many of the chinkapin oaks have an interesting circular fungus growing on them.

Circular fungus on chinkapin oak leaves
This lovely fungus pattern shows up on chinkapin oak leaves in late September into October. Damp leaves and good lighting makes the fungus colors vibrant.

Perhaps this dull background makes the lemon yellow of the hickories even more noticeable. It is still a glowing yellow even through rain.

I’ve only found the maples in town to rival the hickory fall glow. Maples are a popular tree in town. The silver maples do turn yellow, but it is a dim second to the glow of a hickory tree.

Other maples turn red. Usually this is a dull red getting its impact from the volume of leaves.

fall salmon maple glows like lemon yellow hickory
Only a few fall colors seem to glow. The salmon colored maples are one of them.

The rival maples turn a glowing salmon pink. There aren’t many of these on my usual routes around town, but I look forward to spotting their towers of color.

Beautiful as the lemon yellow is against the hills, it is transitory. A hard rain with strong wind carpets the ground with the colors which quickly fade to brown leaving the bare, dark gray branches standing through the winter waiting for spring.

Perhaps you’ve only looked at dogwoods in the spring. Check them out in “Exploring the Ozark Hills“.