It hasn’t exactly felt like autumn for too long yet, with summer’s warm, humid days dwelling long into what’s typically a cooler season.
Though temperatures may have been unseasonal until this weekend, the peak fall foliage window is just around the corner.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the state has one of the longest and most varied fall foliage seasons compared to any other state or part of the world.
There’s a lot of factors responsible for that, including Pennsylvania’s geographical location.
DCNR officials noted its “varied topography from sea level on the coastal plain to over 3,000 feet in the Laurel Highlands supports 134 species of trees and many more shrubs and vines that contributed to the display of autumn color.”
They elaborated on the state’s unique location, adding it’s perfectly placed to host the “northern trees that flourish only on mountain tops farther south and southern species that are at the northern limits of their range.”
Of those multiple species of trees found in Pennsylvania, there’s a couple that stand out as prime foliage trees, including gray and paper (white) birches, mountain maples, American mountain ash, quaking aspen and pin (fire) cherry.
A couple others that stand out – that have a more southern flair – are southern red and scarlet oaks, magnolias, persimmon, pawpaw, black gum and walnut, and pignut hickory trees.
As for when the foliage will reach its peak this year, it looks to be a bit late compared to other years.
A predictive map sponsored by a Smoky Mountains tourism hub estimates Southwestern Pennsylvania’s peak foliage window beginning Oct. 26 and quickly moving “past peak” by Nov. 2.
Right now, the southwestern part of the state is in the “patchy” foliage window, with it estimated to move to “partial” foliage by Oct. 12 and “near peak” by Oct. 19.
DCNR reports echo the predictive map’s results, noting the region’s current status with little to no change in leaf color means that peak is three to four weeks away.
There are, however, a few early indicators of what could be a spectacular foliage display later this month.
“Foresters throughout Penn’s Woods have noted some harbingers of the fall foliage season, observing some early color in black gum, birches, poplars, maples, sumacs, dogwoods and sassafras,” a DCNR report indicated.
“Above-average temperatures predicted in the 10-day forecast could delay onset of fall color in areas receiving sufficient rainfall but speed up the color change and subsequent leaf drop in dryer areas.”