Leaf Peeping 101

Black Tupelo - Photo Jill Slegrist

Fall has slowly arrived in central Ohio and the peak leaf week is almost here. During the weeks of September 24-30, and October 1-7 be sure to go outdoors and find a nice place to not only watch for your favorite migratory birds, but also take a look at the different colors changing around you. There are three plants I always take care to look for in fall, which I think have some of the best colors you will find.

Red Maple

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

This one almost goes without saying. Whether in the buds or petioles, the Red Maple shows off some red all year round, but it is in fall when the color explodes in the leaves. Its dark red, almost royal purple, leaves are most exciting for me to see when up next to a beautiful Sugar Maple, whose leaves turn a glowing orange before falling to the ground. Keep a lookout for this great pairing!

Black Tupelo

Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)

This tree has beautiful dark green leaves in the summer that turn into a bright orange early in autumn. Its habit of turning all at once makes it a vibrant, unique spectacle to observe. You can identify this fall gem by the blue berries which complement the orange-red leaves so elegantly. The birds certainly love them too!

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

Poison Ivy

My favorite memory of Poison Ivy was from my time living in upstate New York, where a vine was wrapped up a Cedar. As autumn set in, the Poison Ivy turned dark red and made the green scales of the Cedar really pop. Birds love eating the fruits that Poison Ivy produce, and although it can be a scary plant to have nearby, it offers a beautiful bouquet of color to lighten the dreariest of fall days. Consider planting this native at your property for the birds and those amazing fall colors—just be sure not to touch it!