Falling for Nature

Falling for Nature

November 1st, 2013 by Mary Beth Torgerson in Local Regional News

Nature lovers everywhere are gearing up for the explosion of fall colors that is slowly taking over the Tennessee Valley.

There is no better time to get outside than the Autumn months when the air is crisp and the leaves turn from green to vibrant orange, yellow, red or gold. While you enjoy the best of what fall has to offer, take this opportunity to also learn to identify several of the area's most common trees and their leaves.

Here are our top 5 picks to be looking for:

Black walnut

Juglans nigra

Fall color: Bright yellow

Black walnut leaves are pinnately compound and alternate. They are also large in size, reaching 12 to 24 inches in length. Each leaf is made up of 15 to 23 leaflets and the margin of the black walnut leaf is singly toothed.

Fall Foliage

To help leaf peepers find the best spots to visit, Georgia's State Parks is offering an online "Leaf Watch" travel planner which will include regular updates to keep travelers posted on how fall color is progressing across Georgia's Blue Ridge. The website profiles top trails and overlooks, mountain cabins and campsites, fall events and hiking tips. For more information or the check out the "Leaf Watch" travel planner, visit GaStateParks.org/leafwatch.

Winged elm

Ulmus alata

Fall color: Yellow

Winged elm leaves are alternate, simple and one side of the leaf is slightly larger than the other. They grow between 1-3 inches long and 1-1½ inches wide, and are double-toothed with fine teeth between evenly spaced, coarse teeth.

Sugar maple

Acer saccharum

Fall color: Bright yellow to

fiery red-orange

Sugar maple leaves are veined and lobed, and are discernible by their opposite leaf arrangement. A typical maple tree leaf is 3-5 inches across and has three to nine veins in each leading to a lobe.

Flowering dogwood

Cornus florida

Fall color: Red-yellow, redpurple, crimson or brick red

Flowering Dogwood has leaves that are opposite, ovate to elliptical, with veins that run parallel to the smooth, often wavy leaf margins. The leaves grow up to five inches long and 2½ inches wide.

Did you know?

The amount, duration and brilliance of autumn color is entirely dependent on weather conditions (temperature, light and water supply) that occur before and during the time chlorophyll in the leaves is declining. Because of this, our rainy year may decrease the intensity of the colors of the leaves this fall.


Fraxinus americana

Fall color: Yellow to purple

Ash leaves are pinnately compound and composed of seven to 11 serrated leaflets with small incurved teeth.

TIP: While you're out enjoying the colors, snap a photo and post it to our Get Out Chattanooga Facebook page at facebook.com/getoutchattanooga.