While Texas is not typically known for its fall foliage, this year, the autumn leaves have been particularly glorious in the Lone Star State, brightening the season in vibrant red, gold, and even purple hues.
Cecilia Stariha, a current Dallas resident, told The Dallas Express, “Actually, the leaves were looking really nice. I feel like it’s been prettier than normal.”
A combination of factors can contribute to the spectacular display of autumn color, according to Daniel Cunningham, a horticulturist with Rooted In Nursery. He explained to NBC 5 that abundant rain during the growing season and dryer conditions in the fall typically result in more colorful fall leaves.
However, this summer was incredibly dry, barring the August storms, and the state has seen more rainfall during the fall season.
Colder weather can also contribute to a more colorful display by causing chlorophyll in the leaves to break down faster. Chlorophyll is the green pigment that allows plants to absorb energy from light, but when it degrades, the leaves’ natural red and yellow pigments shine through.
According to Weather Spark, the Dallas cold season usually does not start until post-Thanksgiving, but this year the Dallas area experienced a stretch of near-freezing weather in mid-November, a little earlier than usual.
Longer nights can also contribute to this changing of color, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which explained, “in response to the shortening days and declining intensity of sunlight, leaves begin the processes leading up to their fall.” The decrease in sunlight accelerates the breakdown of chlorophyll in the leaves.
Extended colder weather also increases the production of anthocyanin – a reddish-purple pigment – in the leaves.
Northern states usually experience more of these factors that are favorable to producing colorful leaves. Among the prettiest states for fall, ranked by Big Seven Travel, are Vermont, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon, Michigan, and New York.
Whatever the cause of this year’s colorful foliage in Texas, be sure to get outside and enjoy the beautiful leaves before they’re gone.