My conversation turned to the mystery of the fall colors with green chlorophyll giving way to yellow carotenes and the appearance of red colors when the genes, soil and weather are favorable. All of this comes about when the scar tissue forms at the base of the leaf and transportation of sugar out and water and minerals into the leaf stops. Our eyes are the beneficiaries of this yearly colorful natural process which just really got started in this area this weekend.
Continuing along the Blockston Branch trail, we followed the golden trail of paw paw, tulip tree, and summersweet leaves. Some guests were interested in the varieties of green fern by the second bridge. Since they were mostly still a deep green color, they contrasted nicely with the reds and yellows. Later we went past a large patch of Christmas fern which will remain green all winter. The devil’s walking stick was resplendent in shades of green gold and red at the next bridge.
We passed some winterberry hollies (red berries) and wound our way to the Overlook trail and someone noticed our American chestnut sprouts by the side of the trail. We found a strawberry bush with red berries and purple caps. Coming out of the woods we saw a pokeberry (with dark berries) right next to a lovely winged sumac in its intense red color. When the sun shines on the winged sumac, it seems to glow from within, hence its other name, the shining sumac. Its lovely red berries gave me a chance to mention that these berries were a source of vitamin C to the early settlers.
Returning along the south meadow, there was a lot of color visible at this edge of the forest. We returned to the visitor’s center and amidst the colorful leaf decorations provided by Mickey B, we enjoyed our colorful lunch. Orange sweet potato soup, roasted red beet salad, zucchini herb bread with green basil and apple pie with red cranberries were served and recipes handed out. We discussed the recipes and why we should eat our colors. Having a soup making day with friends or family was suggested.