Ask the Experts

The Science Behind This Year’s Spectacular Fall Color

a street lined with trees with red leaves | Southern Botanical
North Texas foliage showing vibrant fall colors.

You may have noticed the incredible fall colors many of our tree species in North Texas are displaying, and wondered “why are they so spectacular this year?” Scientifically speaking, there are several factors that play into fall foliage coloring.

Natural Pigments

As fall arrives, and the nights become longer, Chlorophyll production diminishes and, ultimately, stops. 

Chlorophyll is the natural element that allows for photosynthesis which is the process by which sugars are produced to feed the plant. Deciduous trees, those that drop their leaves for winter, store these sugars to feed on during the cold months. 

Chlorophyll pigments the leaves throughout the growing season, and when production ceases, the green color slowly drains. This makes way for the Carotenoids and Anthocyanins, that are also present in tree foliage, to show their true colors which are the brilliant browns, yellows, oranges, reds, and purples. With the mask of Chlorophyll lifted, the ever-present colors beneath shine through. 

a courtyard with a fountain surrounded by trees | Southern Botanical
Showcase colorful fall foliage by selecting the right trees for your landscape.

In Texas, chinese pistache, maples, sweetgums, crepe myrtles, and bradford pears are often the most spectacular but even red oaks, which are rarely red, are displaying oranges and reds this fall. 

This brilliant display of fall colors in North Texas is notable as such a display does not happen often. However, places like North Carolina on the East Coast enjoy vibrant fall colors almost every year. 

Why? The brilliance of fall foliage is directly related to weather conditions; more specifically, temperature and moisture. Warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights (without freezing temperatures) will provide the most spectacular fall colors. Combine those conditions with short fall rains to provide a little bit of moisture in the soil and we have a recipe for our trees to show off.

Prolonging Color

Careful planning can keep your landscape blazing with bright fall leaves and cool weather blooms. With this in mind, our team of Certified Arborists selected their favorite trees to showcase fall foliage​​​​.

This season’s fall colors could quickly come to an end with the event of harsh winds or rain blowing the leaves away. Not to mention an overnight freeze could cue trees to drop their leaves rapidly. So, enjoy them now while they last!