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Iowa Fall Color Report


Iowa Fall Color Report

Iowa Fall Color Report

Fall Color Report As of October 13
Report Date Area Description of Fall Color Est. Peak Viewing
10/18/2021 NE Iowa This year’s extended fall color season has been atypical. Many trees still have green leaves, which would have fallen by now most years. Day length and cooler temperatures are major cues signaling leaf drop. There probably hasn’t been enough accumulation of cooler weather to trigger the typical senescence process. Plenty of fall color is still lingering in northeast Iowa. The oak trees are just starting to turn colors. Mid-October
10/15/2021 NC and NW Iowa Ash and walnut trees are dropping their leaves. The oaks are still green. Silver maple, grapevine, and some cottonwoods are starting to change to a yellow tint. The maples are getting close to being fully red. There are not many vibrant colors, but if you look across the landscape there will be one or two that pop out. Mid-October
10/15/2021 Central Iowa Fall color will be at its peak in central Iowa this week.  Sugar maples and oaks are turning orange and red. Black maple, ash, hickory, and poplar are yellow right now. Hackberry and others are lime green.  White pines have bright yellow interior needles. There are still nice maroon & burgundy colors from roadside shrubs and bright red Virginia creeper vines on trees. Oct. 9-17
10/14/2021 SE Iowa The landscape view in SE Iowa is still mostly green.  Some yellow/brown are showing up in landscapes with hickory, elm, cottonwood, and sugar maple.  White ash is showing some purple.  Urban maple is showing a few brighter reds and oranges.  Sumac, Virginia creeper, and poison ivy are showing some reds.  Oak is still mostly green. Oct. 20-27
10/15/2021 SCentral Iowa There is nice color along field edges, river bottoms, and woodland edges.  Sumac and ivy are bright red, walnut and cottonwood are yellow and falling, and native grasses and forbs are showing muted tones of gold, purple, and bronze.  Upland landscapes where oak dominates are still mostly green, but there are pops of color with shagbark hickory turning bronze and declining ash turning yellow.  Hard maple is at peak color in urban landscapes. Late October
10/18/2021 WC and SW Iowa Nights are still warm which has slowed color changes. Strong winds last week removed many of the reds and pinks seed on shrubs. Yellows are just starting to appear on our bottomlands in the Missouri River Corridor.  Our oaks don’t appear to be showing any color yet, but likely should by the end of the week. Late October


Fall Color Report As of October 6
Report Date Area Description of Fall Color Est. Peak Viewing
10/11/2021 NE Iowa Peak fall color is happening right now in Northeast Iowa.  All species are turning color except for the oaks.  Recent warmer weather appears to have extended the fall color show for another week. Oct. 10-15
10/1/2021 NC and NW Iowa The tree canopies show a mix of green, yellow, orange and now red as the maples are starting to change.  Sumac, virginia creeper, and poison ivy can be identified by their brilliant red to reddish purple color. Big bluestem is a rainbow of colors and asters are coloring the prairies with purples and whites. Early October
10/8/2021 Central Iowa Fall colors turned a corner this week in central Iowa with lots more brilliant yellows dotting the landscape and many maples beginning to turn orange and red.  Most of the oaks are still green but forest canopies have turned a pale green/yellow as the season goes on.  Drought has impacted many trees and will lessen some of this year’s colors, but overall it should still be a good show. Oct. 9-17
10/11/2021 SE Iowa The landscape view in SE Iowa is still mostly green.  Hickory and urban maple are showing some colors.  Poison ivy, dogwood, white ash, and sumac are showing reds and a little purple.  Cottonwood, walnut, silver maple, and elm are starting to show some yellow/brown. Oct. 20-27
10/8/2021 SCentral Iowa Bottomland species such as walnut and cottonwood are turning and falling.  Woodland edges and field edges are still full of color – red ivy and sumac, purple dogwood, and beautiful asters and goldenrod flowering.  Hard maple are turning in town, colors are bright but leaves are falling quickly due to dry conditions.  The oak are still mostly green but the upland landscape is dotted with color from the golden/bronze hickory. Mid to late October
10/11/2021 WC and SW Iowa The first push of early spring colors has faded and we are beginning to see the first shades of yellow in the forest. Bottomland cottonwoods and silver maples are starting to turn. Ash and hickory are starting to show some yellow. Oaks should be starting to change shortly. Oct. 20-27

8 Best Fall Color Views in the Loess Hills

The Loess Hills along the western border of Iowa provide beautiful scenery, wildlife and unique overlooks. Come here for an alluring autumn.

Fall Tree Color Information

Fall is often one of the best times in Iowa, with warm days and cool nights, low humidity, very few insects  and the brilliant autumn colors of our trees.

Every year, thousands of Iowans and visitors flock to the countryside to view nature’s colorful display of red, orange, yellow and purple leaves.

Fall Color – Legend and Facts

Green ash leaves turn yellow, but white ash has a purplish cast. The leaves fall after those of walnut trees, but earlier than  those of oaks and maples.

Elm leaves turn various shades of yellow with some turning brown before falling, others falling while still yellow.

Leaves turn yellow on hickory trees, then brown before falling.

Maple (Soft): 
The leaves of soft (silver) maples turn yellow but do not turn brown before falling.

Maple (Hard): 
Brilliant flame red hues are the signature of hard maple leaves. The red pigmentation of some leaves breaks down before falling.

Bur Oak: 
Buff to yellow colors predominate in bur oaks. The leaves remain on the tree and turn brown before falling.

Oak (Red): 
The red oaks have brilliant red leaves in fall though the color is probably not as intense as that of some hard maples.

Oak (White): 
White oaks have a more subdued purple fall leaf color. The leaves then turn brown and often stay on the tree until new leaves begin to grow in the spring.

When do colors peak?

Peak fall color occurs in northeast Iowa, on average, during the weekend closest to October 10.

Typically, peak fall color occurs progressively later the farther south you go in Iowa. Perhaps the most important thing about fall color is having the time to enjoy it.

Fall Color Map

Fall Color Report as of September 29
Report Date Area Description of Fall Color Est. Peak Viewing
9/20/2021 NE Iowa Some trees are beginning to show their fall color. Sumac, dogwood and Virginia creeper are turning red, orange and yellow. Some trees that have been under stress from this summer’s heat and drought are dropping their leaves a bit early including some elm, maple, walnut, cottonwood and others. Oct. 5-10
9/20/2021 NC and NW Iowa The tree canopies are showing splashes of a yellow orange color. The Sumacs are just starting to turn bright red. chokecherries are changing to yellow or shades of red and purple. Oct. 5-10
9/20/2021 Central Iowa Yellow colors are beginning to appear, especially on ash trees due to Emerald Ash Borer decline. Some sparse red colors are showing up on virginia creeper, poison ivy, and sumac. Oct 9-17
9/20/2021 SE Iowa Some yellows are starting to dot the landscape. Poison ivy, dogwood, and sumac are starting to show reds and a little purple. Oct. 20-27
9/20/2021 SCentral Iowa We are starting to see a bit of color, especially along field and woodland edges. The white ash and green ash are turning purple and yellow respectively, sumac and ivy are starting to get red, and bottomland species are turning yellow including walnut and cottonwood. Oct. 15-20
9/20/2021 WC and SW Iowa Oct. 8-12


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