New York State is famous for its fall foliage- the brilliant transformation of leaf color as temperatures grow colder and there are fewer hours of daylight. Now is the time to see this incredible display. Leaf color is peaking throughout the state.

Changing Every Day

Check out New York State’s tourism website to see foliage reports by region.

The latest [October 14-20] Fall Foliage Map for New York State. Courtesy:
Near peak and some peak foliage is now coloring the Hudson Valley, the state reported last week.

Leaf spotters in Columbia, Dutchess and Orange counties have predicted 70-75 percent color change. In addition to yellow, bright orange and deep red hued leaves, look for colors like “rich gold” and maroon, and “pumpkin, lime and wine,” the state said.

Think about a trip to Bear Mountain State Park to soak in the beauty.

“Rockland County spotters based at Bear Mountain State Park predict 85 percent color change and peak leaves this weekend. Look for bright red, orange and yellow leaves. Also in the county, spotters based in New City expect near peak conditions with 75 percent color change and vibrant colors of purple, orange, red and yellow.”

Westchester County was still seeing minimal change last week.

“Expect around 15 percent color change for the weekend with some bright red and orange leaves scattered among the green,” reported the state.

Fall color is making significant advances on Long Island.

Spotters based in Melville expected 30-40 percent color change with yellow, orange, red and purple leaves of average brilliance last week. Riverhead spotters predicted 25 percent change and bright yellow, orange and purple leaves.

New York City leaves are changing now!

In New York City, spotters based at Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx expected 10 percent color change with bright red and yellow leaves beginning to appear.

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

The mixture of red, purple, orange and yellow is the result of chemical processes that take place in a tree as the seasons change from summer to winter, explains the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

These chemical processes can be impacted by issues like insufficient water. Tree leaves sometimes change color earlier than usual during drought conditions, scientists note.

During the spring and summer, tree leaves serve as factories where most of the foods necessary for the tree’s growth are manufactured. This food-making process takes place in the leaf, in numerous cells containing chlorophyll, which gives the leaf its green color.

Chlorophyll -an “extraordinary chemical”- absorbs energy from sunlight that is then used to transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates, such as sugars and starch.

fall leaves-800wi

However, along with green pigment, leaves have yellow to orange [xanthophyll and carotene] pigments which, for example, give the orange color to a carrot. Most of the year these colors are masked by great amounts of green coloring, says SUNY.

“But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.”