Tyler is a good bet for fall color
By HERB NYGREN and DAYNA WORCHEL
Fall foliage at Tyler State Park near Blackthorn Trail is shown.
Bonnie Allison answered the phone at Tyler State Park on Tuesday afternoon, sounding slightly out of breath.
Park staffers called her to help answer phones because so many people were checking in for a long holiday weekend of camping.
Light is coming from the side of these black gum leaves.
“A lot of people are camping to see the fall leaves — we will be full through Thanksgiving weekend,” Ms. Allison, who is the park host, said.
For a visitor seeking out fall color, Tyler State Park has a beautiful array of trees and plants, including the brilliant red of the black and sweet gum trees near the lake, Smith County Extension Agent Keith Hansen said. And there is red sumac and
American Beauty with its purple berries near the ground, he said.
American Beauty with purple berries and green leaves is a fall find.
The local tree colors may not have the intensity of those seen in New England, the Smoky Mountains or the upper Midwest, Hansen said. “But the Tyler area has some of the best fall color in the state,” he said.
“The East Texas area is probably the best in the state for autumn colors,” Hansen said.
He said Texas Highway 31 toward Kilgore has lots of maple trees, and he also likes Texas highways 14 and 16 north of Tyler, he said. Hansen also recommends the view on U.S. Highway 69 at Love's Lookout, north of Jacksonville.
A closeup of sumac leaves, front lighting, with Nikkor 55 micro lens is shown.
The green leaves change color when shorter days and cooler nights trigger the end of photosynthesis in the tree. This ends the production of chlorophyll, the green pigment which is the dominant color in leaves during the growing season, Hansen said. And the leaves show their true colors of yellow or orange, he said.
The bright reds and purples appear when sugars are trapped in the leaves, Hansen said. The brown colors are the waste left in the leaves.
Sweet gum tree leaves, side lit, glow with both reflected and translucent light.
The colors can vary from tree to tree within the same species due to genetic differences, soil PH and the amount of sunlight and rainfall, Hansen said. He added that the leaves on the top of the sweet gum tree can be very brilliant while the leaves on the lower branches are muted in color.
And beautiful fall leaves can translate into more tourist visits to Tyler and East Texas.
A hickory tree is photographed at Tyler State Park Lake. Backlighting causes the yellow leaves to glow.
The Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau is receiving numerous calls from people in the northeastern U.S. who want to come here and see the autumn leaves, said Kim Morris, assistant vice president of marketing and communications for the bureau.
“Our front desk is getting about 10 calls per day from people interested in the leaves,” Ms. Morris said on Tuesday. “East Texas has so many gorgeous trees.”