Mariton: Rolling Climax

October 31, 2014

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus and Ed Norman


Photo by Ed Norman

On Tuesday, Susan asked about peak fall color timing.  I have become less fond of this term, even though I still use it quite a bit.  Over time I have noticed some differences between autumns here and my boyhood home in Michigan.  It took me quite a few years to put my finger on it, but I finally think the difference is all about species diversity.  Growing up we really did have peak colors when all the leaves seemed to turn at once and humble you with the beauty.  If you went farther north the peak was even more apparent.  But, if you got a heavy rain or an early frost your fall colors could be lost instantly.

MEBUS MaritonFieldMainTrail1028

Photo by Carole Mebus

Mariton is dazzling too, but much more gradual.  Right now, the leaves on several species have long since fallen, but the oaks and beeches are still green.  The hickories are flame yellow, the maples are flame red, and the Sassafras are flame orange.  Only a couple weeks ago, the palette was a totally different set of species and amazing colors.

NORMAN Red Maple 10-28-24

Photo by Ed Norman

When you get to locales with limitations for plants you are going to have less species that can thrive under the conditions.  The limiting parameters could be temperature extremes, amount of rainfall, amount of wind, etc.  Or it could have to do with soil types, soil pH, amount of water in the soil, and even which direction the slope faces.  When you have less species, it is more likely that you will have these short but dynamic peaks of autumn color.

MEBUS MaritonField1028-2

Photo by Carole Mebus

At Mariton, and most of Southeastern Pennsylvania, we are blessed with a moderate climate and good soils.   We are also at the crux of several eco-regimes:  the coastal plain, the Piedmont, the Pocono plateau, etc.  It gives us a huge diversity of species.  It also gives us a rolling climax of colors and enjoyment.  So you shouldn’t plan to go out just one weekend to take in the color, but every weekend for two months.

Norman Milkweed art

Photo by Ed Norman

I hope your “socks are knocked off” by these amazing photos.  That was my response when Ed and Carole sent me these photos following Tuesday’s walk.  If your socks are knocked off, then put them back on, lace up your shoes and get outside to enjoy the amazing scenery!

MEBUS MilkweedGoneToSeedMaritonField1028

Photo by Carole Mebus