Thursday, October 20, 2011

Aspen, Granite II -- anthocyanins -- a few anyway

A few weeks ago I took a wonderful Indian Summer hike through quaking aspen and Sherman granite in the mountains east of town.  But the next day was wintry, bringing the first snow of the season which lasted all day leaving 6” of wet concrete on my picnic table.  A week later, I headed back up into the mountains to check on the aspen.  Wow! .. many still had their leaves.  It isn't yet the end of Indian Summer, and we are all grateful.

In one warm sunny spot below the south face of a massive outcrop of Sherman granite, the trees were still in their green summer garb.
Some aspen were sporting a few orange leaves ... maybe they made enough sugars during our warm fall days to produce some anthocyanins.  Or maybe it really was the Leaf Fairies, the ones who go out on frosty nights and paint over dying leaves with these lovely colors.

Utah aspen, 2010, courtesy Ray Boren

Earth Science Picture of the Day has had a rash of plant photos lately, including a beautiful shot by Nel Graham of yellow- and oranged-leaved aspen in the eastern Sierra Nevada.  From there a link leads to a 2010 ESPD of a really spectacular mix of leaf colors in Utah aspen (left).

Fall colors are not limited to trees.   Around a bend in the trail I found alum root basking in the sunshine, its autumn leaves backlit by the low autumn light.

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