Mild Fall weather has been a treat in this region. Colors have been beautiful, including those of red maples, barberry, and prairie grasses.
More needs to be learned about the variation in Fall color in maples. The more intense the red of maple in a season may show its all-out effort to get more nutrients from its leaves. The red anthocyanin requires extra energy from the tree to gain the additional nutrients needed. In this view, a more yellow maple displays its yellow carotenoids present in the leaves already, resulting from a tree in less harsh conditions, such as better soil or milder temperatures. More on this view: Sanderson, K. Why autumn leaves turn red. Nature (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/news.2007.202
Barberry (Berberis sp.) is a common shrub in this region. It is often hardy (USDA Zone 4-8), grows in full sun or partial shade, has arching natural stems, or may be pruned, and deer usually do not eat its leaves or thorns. Barberry is notable for its array of available leaf colors and grows well for hedges or barriers. This season, lime barberry produced exceptional fall color.
Once deciduous leaves have fallen, muted hues of perennial grasses like Miscanthus are more noticeable, heads moving in the prairie breeze. Now we notice basic tree shapes and bark, and other features of Fall.
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