Getting cheated on the colours of autumn

It appears we’re being cheated out of normal fall colours this year. Is it a trend? Some people say so; i.e. that in recent; years a lot of the trees that would normally turn yellow aren’t doing that. They’re either not turning at all and just dropping off while still green, or drying up and turning brown. The exceptions are birch, which are going nicely yellow, and of course the red of the chokecherries. But that big yellow colour show of the poplar and aspen just doesn’t seem to be happening – or at least to a large degree it isn’t. Even the ash trees on 3rd Ave. NE in Slave Lake are not going bright yellow the way they usually do.

So what’s happening?

Answer: nobody knows. People with time to spend thinking or studying about trees are paying attention to other things, such as the mountain pine beetle. The Leader tried to track down a tree expert at the University of Alberta last week, but of the three most likely people on the U of A’s ‘Find an Expert’ list – one is off on a year’s sabbatical, one has decamped for the coast and the third says he’s not an expert on that sort of thing. He did suggest something called ‘leaf scorch,’ which happens when a plant loses moisture faster than it can replace it.

Online chitchat about leaves turning has to do with them turning early. Nobody seems to be talking about them not turning at all.

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