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Peak fall color is happening right now in Northeast Iowa. All species are turning color except for the oaks. Recent warmer weather appears to have extended the fall color show for another week.
The tree canopies show a mix of green, yellow, orange and now red as the maples are starting to change. Sumac, virginia creeper, and poison ivy can be identified by their brilliant red to reddish purple color. Big bluestem is a rainbow of colors and asters are coloring the prairies with purples and whites.
Fall colors turned a corner this week in central Iowa with lots more brilliant yellows dotting the landscape and many maples beginning to turn orange and red. Most of the oaks are still green but forest canopies have turned a pale green/yellow as the season goes on. Drought has impacted many trees and will lessen some of this year's colors, but overall it should still be a good show.
The landscape view in SE Iowa is still mostly green. Hickory and urban maple are showing some colors. Poison ivy, dogwood, white ash, and sumac are showing reds and a little purple. Cottonwood, walnut, silver maple, and elm are starting to show some yellow/brown.
Bottomland species such as walnut and cottonwood are turning and falling. Woodland edges and field edges are still full of color - red ivy and sumac, purple dogwood, and beautiful asters and goldenrod flowering. Hard maple are turning in town, colors are bright but leaves are falling quickly due to dry conditions. The oak are still mostly green but the upland landscape is dotted with color from the golden/bronze hickory.
The first push of early spring colors has faded and we are beginning to see the first shades of yellow in the forest. Bottomland cottonwoods and silver maples are starting to turn. Ash and hickory are starting to show some yellow. Oaks should be starting to change shortly.
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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.
Fall Color - Legend and Facts
Ash: 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.
Elms: Elm leaves turn various shades of yellow with some turning brown before falling, others falling while still yellow.
Hickory: 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.
Printable Fall Colors State of Iowa Map