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South Texas Living

Fall colors showing up in state parks

Fall colors showing up   in state parks
Flame-leaf sumac

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November 21, 2012
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With cold weather slowly creeping its way across the state, fall foliage is beginning to show its true colors in Texas state parks.

In the Panhandle, Palo Duro Canyon State Park’s cottonwood trees’ yellow leaves glint in the sunlight and the skunkbush sumacs are just about to turn.

Northwest of San Antonio, the bigtooth maples and other hardwoods at Lost Maples State Natural Area are showing hints of color around their edges and are expected to be in peak color soon. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) strongly suggests that to avoid long lines of traffic, try to visit Lost Maples during the week.

Northwest of Austin at Inks Lake State Park near Burnet, the sycamore trees are sporting golden foliage and the cypress trees lining the lake have adorned themselves in shades of brown, orange, and red.

Just north of Dallas at Eisenhower State Park, and around Lake Texoma, elm trees, winged sumacs, and oak trees are turning shades of red and are accompanied by ash and bois d’arc trees ornamented with yellow leaves.

On the eastern ridge of the Texas/Louisiana border at Martin Creek Lake State Park, sumac, black gum, and other foliage are showing hues of red, gold, and purple.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department botanist Jackie Poole said fall colors in Texas will be most prevalent in areas that have not been severely impacted by the drought, such as much of West Texas, and have been blessed with some decent rainfall during summer and early autumn.

According to Andrea DeLong-Amaya, director of horticulture for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, many native Hill Country plants found that provide the best fall color will achieve peak color shortly after the first frost. Some of those species include:

•Flame-leaf sumac (Rhus lanceolata) -- just starting to turn now. Orange/red.

•Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) -- just starting to turn now. Orange/red.

•Texas red oak (Quercus texana) -- usually best color around or after Thanksgiving. Dark red.

•Elbowbush (Forestiera pubescens) -- will turn soon. Yellow.

•Cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia) -- will turn soon. Yellow.

•Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) -- turning now. Orange/red.

•Grasses like bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii).

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