September 22, 2023
Days are growing shorter, temperatures are cooler, and hints of fall color are beginning to appear in the tree collections, gardens, and woodlands at The Morton Arboretum. The most visible changes are in the meadows and trees near Parking Lot 1, where fall color normally develops first. In the Arboretum’s woodlands, late-blooming asters, goldenrods, and white snakeroot add color to the ground layer. Green leaves are beginning to turn more pale on canopy and understory trees, hinting at the seasonal changes to come.
Fall color is most visible in buckeyes near Parking Lot 5 and along Illinois Route 53. Buckeye leaves are turning rusty-brown, and the trees are already showing bare branches and large round fruits. Lighter greens are showing in other trees including hackberries, corktrees, coffeetrees, katsura trees, catalpas, and a few walnuts and elms. This year’s large crop of acorns and walnuts are starting to drop to the ground along Arboretum roads and paths. Look for early reds developing on the leaves of sumac shrubs and the occasional Virginia creeper or poison-ivy vine in sunny areas.
The Schulenberg Prairie is a good place to watch fall colors develop. Grasses are blooming and setting seeds, taking on a golden color. Gentians, asters, goldenrods, and late-sunflowers are in flower. For more blooms, enjoy the seasonal displays in containers and beds around The Gerard T. Donnelly Grand Garden and in Arbor Court near the Visitor Center.
The fall color season is upon us. Visit early and often, as fall colors will be changing almost daily.
Featured in this week's Fall Color Report
Buckeyes are rounded trees and shrubs with low, sweeping branches and dense foliage that provides deep shade.
New England aster
New England aster is a native, upright perennial with purple or pinkish daisy-like flowers that bloom in late summer and autumn.