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View 'Miracle of Fall' colors   Send a link to a friend

[OCT. 6, 2004]  URBANA -- Signs of fall are in the air, and with these signs comes the promise of brilliant fall foliage, noted Ron Wolford, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator based in Chicago. And University of Illinois Extension has a website to aid those desiring to see the best examples of fall color.

"The days are noticeably shorter; cooler temperatures are on the way," he said. "The green leaves of summer will soon give way to a brilliant autumn palette of golds, yellows, reds, oranges and browns. Did you know that the yellows and oranges of fall, on maples and ashes, have been there all summer?"

The colors, Wolford explained, were hidden by chlorophyll, which makes leaves green.

"As days grow shorter, chlorophyll production is gradually reduced, allowing the yellows and oranges to appear," he said. "Red and purple fall colors appear in the fall as sugars in the leaves break down in bright light. Sunny, bright days will produce the most brilliant reds and purples."

The most vivid fall foliage occurs when days are sunny and cool, combined with cool nights, above-freezing temperatures and normal rainfall. Since these conditions vary from year to year, it is difficult to predict fall color.

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Wolford said the Chicago area is blessed with places like Morton Arboretum, the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Cook County Forest Preserve to view colorful fall foliage. Nearby Wisconsin and Michigan offer many scenic fall foliage drives.

"Families might want to plan a weekend excursion this October to view fall's colorful extravaganza," he said.

To check out fall foliage drives, updates and festivals, go to U of I Extension's "The Miracle of Fall" website at www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/fallcolor or call Wolford at (773) 233-0476.

[University of Illinois news release]

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