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Forests of November

November 9, 2015  |  Permalink

The colors of fall have mostly fallen. Many of the leaves on the ground will retain some color for a little while, decorating a walk through the November woods. When the leaves are dry they crunch under your feet. I have often compared this to what it must be like to walk through a bowl of corn flakes. When they are wet they are more colorful and less noisy yet still cover roots and rocks and other tripping hazards, so walk carefully.

My favorite late fall tree is the American Beech. The leaves on the beech are held longer than most trees. The mix of green, yellow and brown gives them a magical beauty. In fact, the beech tree is marcescent. That means they retain their leaves even after they have died and turned all brown. Beech trees give the forest golden highlights throughout the winter. Other members of the Beech family, such as young oaks also have marcescent. So the color is not all gone yet. There is still time to enjoy the waning fall.

Top photo is of Montgomery Bell State Park. Middle and bottom photos are of Roan Mountain State Park.

About the author

Tennessee State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath is a native of west Tennessee, where his family’s farm was just 15 miles from the Tennessee River. After graduating from UT Martin and working seasonally for several years for the National Park Service and Tennessee State Parks, he has spent the last 33 years with state parks. Randy worked as a ranger/naturalist at South Cumberland State Park on the Cumberland Plateau and at Radnor Lake Natural Area in Nashville until 2007 when he was given the opportunity to be the statewide naturalist for the state park system.