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Personal Notes

October 28, 2015 | Weekly Commentary

Fall foliage report: leaves are at their peak this week in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.   Another opportunity to boast about our area: According to Pennsylvania Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the nation — or anywhere in the world. This is no empty boast. Only three regions of the world support deciduous forests that display fall autumn color: eastern North America; the British Isles and parts of northwestern Europe; northeastern China and northern Japan. Forests in other regions are either tropical or dominated by conifers.

Pennsylvania’s location between 40° and 42° North latitude and its varied topography from sea level on the coastal plain to over 3,000 feet in the Laurel Highlands supports 134 species of trees and many more shrubs and vines that contribute to the display of autumn color.

Pennsylvania is the meeting ground of northern trees that flourish only on mountain tops farther south and southern species that are at the northern limits of their range. Gray and paper birch, mountain maple and mountain-ash from the north share Penn’s Woods with southern red oak, sweetbay and umbrella magnolias, sourwood, persimmon and sweetgum from the south. Ohio buckeye, bur oak, and shingle oak, common to the Mississippi Valley, have eastern outposts on the Allegheny Plateau.