While many parts of the country have begun their winter, here in Texas we are still enjoying the balmy days of Autumn. While our fall color isn’t perhaps as dramatic as some places in the country we still have some lovely yellows and reds set against the backdrop of the evergreen cedar. (Juniperus ashei). Cedar elms are tall stately trees that can be found on their own or hidden within the forest. This year their small winged fruits covered the ground in September and October as their yellow golden leaves are doing now.
Another source for hints of gold on the hillside is the Bur Oak. The leaves of this oak are enormous as are their beautiful acorns that have caps with dramatic “burrs” surrounding them. A beautiful tree in a park setting this wonderful tree is now dropping its leaves, that are the size of a childs shoe, making a crunchy brown flooring for park goers to enjoy in the fall light.
Oaks are also a source of dramatic reds seen along roads and on hillsides. The Spanish Oak belongs to the group of Oaks known as the Red Oaks and doesn’t disappoint. The identification of this fast growing species can be tricky as it has much in common with the Shumard Oak (Quercus shumardii) and Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata). Another source of deep red is from a slightly small tree, the flame leaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata). This wonderful plant specimen changes from a vibrant green in the spring to a deep red in the fall. It candelabra like inflorescences of tiny cream flowers resulting in reddish seeds which marks the beginning of the change in late September/October. Their color emphasized by the late fall light they optimize winter metaphor of burning the old and opening ways for new beginnings.