December 7th, 2015

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

The Colors of Oaks

European Oaks, I've been told, do not change color in the fall and winter.   Some North American oaks develop brilliant color, and among these are several species of oak that grow in central Texas.   They change late--later now than fifteen years ago, pushing the ones in our yard to late November and early December, instead of early -mid November.  Years back, the oak leaves might have blown off by Thanksgiving; now they're just starting to turn then.  But this year, this week, they've been developing color.

What makes oaks very different from other deciduous trees in terms of the effect is their leathery-shiny surface, and the variability--even on one tree--in the way the leaves turn.  Sunlight glints off the leaves as well as penetrating them, so the tree sparkles and shimmers with color (very unlike the fiery glow of a sugar maple in New England, which has broader, thinner, and matte leaves, not glossy at all.

These were photographed with the sun behind me, showing the "shine" on the surface and the variatility of the leaf change.  These are all still on the tree--one branch of one tree.  This particular tree, when fully changed, ranges from a medium to a dark red with a few yellow and orange leaves.
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