Autumn Foliage Color
The foliage colors at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts, are similar to those throughout the northeast. The peak of the autumn colors at the Forest is around mid October, earlier than that in Boston and the New York City area by about two weeks, and later than those in central Vermont and New Hampshire by about two weeks. This site will introduce you to those changes and the science behind them.
Description and images of the principal plants that provide a New England autumn's colors
A close-up look at the leaves of common trees and bushes. You can see how dramatically different the leaves of many trees and shrubs appear.
Removing the mystery of color change through explanations of leaf pigments, leaf structure and function, the process of leaf color change and the biological significance of color change.
Although always impressive, autumn leaf colors vary from year to year, and seem to be more intense in some regions. What makes for a good year?
Autumn colors were different a century ago in southern New England, and they will likely continue to change during this century. These changes are largely due to human activity, including land-use changes, introduced pests and diseases, forest management, and climate change from fossil fuel emissions.
Shows the timing of the color changes in individual trees in a typical autumn in one location.
Local autumn landscapes near the Harvard Forest.
References providing background and recent ideas about the nature and function of autumn coloration.