Cut and run
  The most diverse forest
  Three different forest
    areas

  Four seasons
  Colorful fall season
  Flowers galore
  Endangered species
  Lots of forests
  Cutting down the trees
  Forest fun
  Acid Rain

Colorful Fall Season       Fall in West Virginia is a spectacular show of colors which natives tend to take for granted.  The profusion of intensely colored foilage in the eastern United States, especially in West Virginia, occurs in few other places -- some parts of western Europe and eastern Asia and a few spots elsewhere.

     Reds are red oak, red maple, and sumac.  Scarlets are pin oak, scarlet oak, dogwood, black gum, sassafras.  Reddish are black oak and black cherry.  Purple is white ash and white oak varies from purplish red to violet.  Yellow is common in sugar maple which also may be orange to red,  sycamore, elm, willow, hickory, tuliptree, and birch.   Golden bronze is persimmon and beech.  Gold is aspen.  Dull orange is chestnut oak.  Russet is basswood.  

     When. Fall colors arrive from late September to late October, again depending upon the area of the state.  Yellows and reds cascade from the highest peaks downward to the hills and valleys.  Soon golds and bronzes color the hillsides.  The thrill of  being in the mountains at their peak color is one of the joys of  exploring the Mountain State

      From west to east the colors appear as follows:  western one-third counties south of Parkersburg diagonally through  the eastern part of Kanawha County and into Greenbrier County -- late October; north-central counties south of northern panhandle -- mid October; northern panhandle -- early October; central counties of Nicholas, Webster, and Randolph -- early October; the remaining eastern counties (except the four most eastern) -- late September; and the eastern panhandle counties of Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson -- late October.

      Mast. Fall is the season when nut trees and other flora produce mast essential to the survival of forest animals.  Beechnuts, hickory nuts, acorns from white oaks and chestnut oaks, walnuts, apples, grapes, blackberries, and mast from understory trees and shrubs such as hawthorn, dogwood, sassafras are important.

      Why the change in colors? Supposedly, according to an old Native American story, celestial hunters slew the Great Bear during the fall and his blood, dripping on the forest, covered the leaves in red.  When fat splattered from the frying pan, it turned some of the leaves yellow. 

      Science tells us that during fall the true colors of leaves are revealed.  Molecules of carotene, which are yellow, and those of xanthophyll, which are orange and red, are present in leaves all year long.  At summer's end, which brings changes in temperature and day length, a layer of cork cells forms where each leaf is attached, cutting off the flow of water and minerals. Leaves stop producing chlorophyll which is needed to absorb light.  As the chlorophyll breaks down and disappears, the hidden reds, oranges, and yellows from nature's palette paint the West Virginia hills with vibrant colors. When the cork layers dissolve, the colorful leaves fall to the ground.
Last updated on Monday, July 24, 2000