The official New York state foliage report says trees around Lake Placid are changing colors quickly. They're expected to be a peak by the weekend, with near complete color change, and a mix of golds, yellows, reds, mixed in with the evergreens. Old Forge, and the Mount Arab/ Tupper Lake area are all expecting 95-percent color change this week and a mix of red, russet, orange and gold leaves.
Nina Bussuk is a professor in the Cornell Horticulture Department. While we all learn in school about chlorophyll making leaves green. She says that pigment breaks down in the fall. And if we're lucky a red pigment takes its place.
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Bussuk says some species don’t have the ability to turn red. But sugar maples, red maples, red and white oaks, can all turn red. White ash can turn purple.
But she says if there are overcast, cloudy, and rainy days, even those trees can go straight to yellow.
"The yellow is always there. It’s underneath the green, if you like. But to get those reds and oranges you need to have brilliant sunshine to get the process that occurs. So we really hope for those bright sunny days and cool nights and as much leaf retention as possible to allow those colors to form."
Bussuk says the Northeast U.S. and Northeast China are the only places in the world that have the variety of trees that can offer such a brilliant display in the fall.