September 29, 2023
We are at the very beginning of the fall color display in the tree collections and woodlands at The Morton Arboretum. The most visible changes continue to be seen in the parking lots and meadows, where fall colors normally begin to develop first due to stress on plants from difficult conditions.
In the Arboretum’s woodlands, late-blooming asters, goldenrods, and white snakeroot continue to add color to the ground layer, while in the canopy of leaves overhead and in the understory of shorter trees, paler greens are beginning to develop on redbuds, ironwood, and some elms.
Buckeyes are turning rusty-brown and then losing their leaves to show bare branches and large round fruits in the Buckeye Collection near Parking Lot 5, on Frost Hill, and along Illinois Route 53. Around the Arboretum, honey-locusts, hackberries, Kentucky coffeetrees, corktrees, and katsura trees have started turning yellow. Lighter greens are showing in walnuts, elms, and ironwoods.
Red leaves are developing on dogwoods, sumacs, Virginia creeper, and poison-ivy vines in sunny areas. The Maple Collection, near parking lots 7, 8, and 14, has early color showing on Freeman maples. This year’s large crop of acorns and walnuts are crunching underfoot on walkways and trails and scattered on the roads.
Good places to look for developing fall color include the Maple Collection near Parking Lot 14, the sumacs near Parking Lot 18, Lake Marmo near Parking Lot 27, and the Schulenberg Prairie near Parking Lot 25.
There is plenty of seasonal color in planting beds and displays full of pumpkins, ornamental kale, and chrysanthemums at the Visitor Center, Arbor Court, and The Gerard T. Donnelly Grand Garden near Parking Lot 1, as well as the Thornhill Education Center by Parking Lot 22.
Colors will be changing at The Morton Arboretum on a daily basis this fall, so visit early and often!
Featured in this week's Fall Color Report
A Chicago region native, hackberry produces fleshy, purple-brown berries that ripen in late summer and persist through winter.
The native species of honey-locust has large thorns on its stems and bark. For this reason, thornless honey-locust is most commonly sold.
The dark green summer foliage of sumac turns an excellent yellow to an orange-red-purple combination in fall.