With the higher temperatures of the summer long gone and now the daily cool weather of fall, trees and shrubs around the Show-Me State have transformed from leaves of green to a fall-foliage color palette of golds, reds, oranges, and purples.

Leaves turn colors when two things happen. First, sugars produced by photosynthesis are trapped inside leaves by chilly - but not freezing - autumn nights. Those sugars are the building blocks for red, yellow, orange, and purple pigments. Cool nights simultaneously cause the breakdown of green pigments, allowing these other colors to show through.

A wide variety of trees around the state means Missourians have a fall-color season that can last four to six weeks. Sassafras, sumac, and Virginia creeper were some of the earliest foliage to change, beginning back in mid-September. By late September, black gum, bittersweet, and dogwoods were turning. 

The color change, of course, starts earliest in northern Missouri and moves southward across the state. The peak of fall color in Missouri is usually around mid-October. This is when maples, ashes, oaks, and hickories are at the height of their fall display. Normally by late October, the colors are fading and the leaves start to drop from the trees, but this Fall we are blessed with many trees still displaying the beautiful colors.

As we move further into fall, we hope for more great days of beautiful foliage across the state.

Beau Matthews