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Fall Colors Dimmed?

Fall Colors Dimmed?This year's drought may result in more muted fall foliage, a Tufts plant biologist told Boston's WBZ News on a recent trip to New Hampshire.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.08.02] Fall foliage -- one of New England's biggest tourist attractions -- draws millions of visitors to the region every year. But the highly anticipated displays of color owe a lot of their vibrancy to the weather. This year's drought may have taken its toll, says a Tufts plant biologist, causing the normally spectacular foliage to be more muted than usual.

"I don't think it will be as vibrant," Tufts' George Ellmore told Boston's WBZ-4 News on a recent trip to New Hampshire's Squam Lake. "There will be more muted, subtle, pastel colors."

A long-lasting drought and low water reserves have put a lot of stress on the region's trees, he said. As a result, the leaves are likely to lose their color quickly and fall off the trees much earlier than usual.

"On this oak tree behind me, the lower end of that oak tree has green leaves on it," Ellmore told the local CBS affiliate, pointing to a tree near the lake. "As you look further up to the tree where you would expect to see leaves turning yellow and slowly turning brown, the leaves are already gone."

There are other indications that the dry spell is impacting this year's foliage. The forest floor is covered with an unusual amount of brown leaves for this time of the season.

"You would ordinarily expect those leaves to still be on the trees and turning bright orange and red," Ellmore told the news station.

But there are places in New England that should remain unaffected by the drought.

"Check out areas near lakes, rivers and reservoirs," reported WBZ News. "The show there should be just fine."



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