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Fall Color Report for Week of September 28th, 2020

Report Date Area Description of Fall Color Est. Peak Viewing
09/28/2020 NE Iowa The fall colors are outstanding so far this year in the Northeast corner of Iowa. Most species are starting to turn colors at this time.  The many recent clear days and cool nights are helping to produce a more vibrant show than last year.  Typically drab fall color species, like walnut, hackberry, basswood and elm, are unusually bright and brilliant this year. Oct. 5-10
09/28/2020 NC and NW Iowa Much of the forest trees are still green but dappled with some color.  Walnuts, cottonwoods, green ash, and basswood are yellow or partially yellow.  Along the forest edges are red foliage in dogwoods and sumac.  Red, orange, and purple are starting to become more prevalent in town with maples and white ashes turning color. Oct. 12-16
Central Iowa Colors came on strong this past week along the Hwy 20 corridor with maples, ash, and hickory turning bright hues.  The season may progress faster than usual and the peak may be a little earlier than normal.  The oaks are mostly unchanged still, but with a lot of leaf diseases and strong winds the past 7 days, they may not be the highlight of this year’s season.  Oct 10-17
09/28/2020    SE Iowa Black walnut, silver maple, elm, and cottonwood are showing color. Roadside are showing some purple and reds from dogwood, wild plum, and poison ivy. White ash is turning purple, sumac and some urban maple trees turning red. Oct. 15-22
SCentral Iowa Beautiful deep purple in white ash along forest edges.  Also seeing bright red in sumac, ivy, and Virginia creeper in roadsides and edges.  Still have nice bright yellow from walnut and other bottomland species but leaves are starting to fall in those areas.  Hard maples in the urban areas are starting to show orange and red. Oaks are still mostly green. Estimated peak mid-October.   Oct. 15-22
09/21/2020 WC and SW Iowa The combines are rolling and the trees are beginning to change. The last flush of prairie plants are showing yellow and purple blooms. Sumac, ivy and dogwood are colorful with purples, reds and oranges beginning to show. Walnut, cottonwood and green ash are all starting to show yellow. Most forest trees are still green. Oct. 15-22

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Fall Tree Color Information

Fall is often one of the best times in Iowa, with warm days and cool nights, low humidity, very few insects  and the brilliant autumn colors of our trees.

Every year, thousands of Iowans and visitors flock to the countryside to view nature's colorful display of red, orange, yellow and purple leaves.

Looking for ways to enjoy Iowa's fall color? Visit Iowa Tourism.

Fall Color - Legend and Facts

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.

Maple (Soft): 
The leaves of soft (silver) maples turn yellow but do not turn brown before falling.

Maple (Hard): 
Brilliant flame red hues are the signature of hard maple leaves. The red pigmentation of some leaves breaks down before falling.

Bur Oak: 
Buff to yellow colors predominate in bur oaks. The leaves remain on the tree and turn brown before falling.

Oak (Red): 
The red oaks have brilliant red leaves in fall though the color is probably not as intense as that of some hard maples.

Oak (White): 
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.

When do colors peak?

Peak fall color occurs in northeast Iowa, on average, during  the weekend closest to October 10.

Typically, peak fall color occurs progressively later the farther south you go in Iowa. Perhaps the most important thing about fall color is having the time to enjoy it.

Fall Color Map


Printable Fall Colors State of Iowa Map