The emails and Facebook posts have begun to arrive. People worry we won’t have fall foliage. I’m not sure I disagree. What’s outside my window is very disheartening.
First things first. It’s early. Maybe I’m just looking too hard for something that shouldn’t be here yet?
On the other hand I read Ed Mahony’s article a few weeks ago in the Courant. He interview Chris Martin, forestry director for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Property owners have already begun to notice brown splotches on withered or curling leaves, mostly on their maples. In some cases, they are reporting that the trees are losing leaves prematurely. The problem is more common in moist, low-lying areas like the Connecticut River Valley than on higher, drier hills, Martin said.
He said the culprits were a family of fungi called anthracnose and a separate species called tar spot. Both are always present in stands of hardwood trees, but become a problem during unusually wet growing seasons.
“These are things that are always in the background,” Martin said. “The spores become active in the spring each year. Normally, summer gets dry enough that they die off. This year because of a wet spring, with August being as wet as it was and certainly because of the tropical storms of recent weeks, it has got these guys going.”
On maples, anthracnose creates purplish-brown areas along leaf veins and larger, irregular brown spots between the veins. It creates scattered brown spots or splotches on oaks that look like scorch marks. Tar spot causes spots that look as if they were caused by drops of tar.
What he described is what I’m seeing in the trees around my house. There are a few splotches of color. They’re unusual enough to stand out like a gray patch in an otherwise dark head-of-hair.
I’m hopeful, but not optimistic.