Looking for leaves? Go now – it’s “peak color” week in the Bay Area

Worried about the fate of democracy, power outages and who’s bringing cranberries to your holiday dinner?

Stop all that, right now, and step outside — before it’s too late.

From Pleasanton to San Rafael and San Jose, 75 to 100 percent of deciduous trees are glowing with a multi-hued palette of yellow, gold, chestnut, copper, ginger and cinnamon.

This is “peak color” week, according to California’s foliage report card of the San Francisco Bay Area’s urban forests, where leaves are lit so brilliantly it looks like Project Runway for trees.

“GO NOW!” is the official advice for Bay Area residents by the California Fall Color Report (Subtitled: “Dude, color happens here, too”), compiled from reports and photographs submitted by a state network of volunteer observers.

The dazzling annual display, conditions permitting, will only last another week or two before becoming more sparse. In much of the state, that glorious moment between green and dead is already gone.

The higher elevations in Walnut Creek and Danville have lost their luster. Grape leaves are carpeting the vineyards of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino County.

The last of the cottonwood leaves – all that’s left after a big wind! Photographed in the Solano County town of Fairfield. (Photo courtesy of Robin Meadows)

The black oaks and dogwoods of Yosemite Valley are nearing “past peak.” So are the yellow bigleaf maples in Chico’s famed Bidwell Park and the walnut groves of the Upper Sacramento Valley.

Epic autumnal spots like the Eastern Sierra’s Bishop Creek Canyon and June Lake Loop? Game over. They’re already bracing for snow.

Compared with much of America, we don’t have the vast hardwood forests that offer a long parade of color from north to south, exploding in a chorus of vermilion, amber and yellow with the first cold snap.

Our spectacle is more subtle. Trees take turns in the spotlight, as species respond differently to altitude and weather — with forests at higher elevations developing color first. Drought is hard on color schemes, with leaves turning a dull brown and dropping early to reduce water loss.

And recent winds have stripped some of our trees of their beauty, littering streets and sidewalks.

But even as the sun drops its arc across the sky, the report reminds us that even when the fall color fades, there is still much left to see.

Millions of birds have begun arriving in Central Valley refuges as they make their way south along the Pacific

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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