Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fall color in mid-December

with 15 comments

Cedar elm; click for greater detail and sharpness.

A week of mildly wet weather in Austin has coincided with the rapid appearance of fall color in some of our trees, so when the rain relented yesterday I went out under the still-gray afternoon skies to see what I could see after days spent mostly indoors. In parts of my neighborhood I found plenty of cedar elm trees, Ulmus crassifolia, whose leaves were turning their characteristic late-autumn colors of yellow and orange. The one shown here was in Great Hills Park, which you may have heard me say several times is just half a mile downhill from where I live.

Veteran readers of this blog have seen a cedar elm once before, in August, when I provided a picture of one of its brand-new leaves that reminded me of marzipan. For more information about Ulmus crassifolia, including a clickable map showing the places in the United States where this tree grows, you can visit the USDA website.


Addendum: I meant to point out that the green leaves in the lower right are greenbrier, a very common native vine with sharp prickles on it.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 17, 2011 at 5:04 AM

15 Responses

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  1. What a striking picture! The dappled effect of all those little blooms reminds me of a Monet painting.


    December 17, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    • Thank you, Trish. I don’t mind being the Monet of the mountains—well, of my Great Hills neighborhood anyway.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 17, 2011 at 9:09 AM

  2. Lovely photo, reminiscent of fall photos in the mountains, where aspen glow against the dark green pines.

    Our trees suddenly began turning about Wednesday – I’ve not seen so much color in several years. Japanese maple, Bradford pear, cypress, tallow, crepe myrtle are glowing with burgundy, orange, yellow and red. No need for a trip to Lost Maples this year – the beauty came to the city!


    December 18, 2011 at 6:45 AM

    • Thanks, Linda. Sounds like your trees are in sync with ours, and mostly the same types you mentioned. I checked the USDA map and found that some counties in your coastal area are reported to have cedar elms, so perhaps you’ll see some of them too and can propitiate the native tree spirits. (I also noticed in looking at the map that it doesn’t have cedar elms marked in Williamson County, even though I’ve seen them there turning yellow in the fall.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2011 at 7:14 AM

  3. Same experience here in Dallas. Suddenly, this week, some of the trees turned beautiful shades of bright red, orange, and yellow. Maybe it was the rain we had earlier in the week, but it was lovely–and very late in the season for such glorious fall colors.

    Angela@chasing now

    December 18, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    • Thanks for your account from Dallas, Angela. Based on that and the report by Shoreacres, it seems likely that much of the eastern half of the state is similar. How nice that we have colorful views so late in the season, when in many parts of the country the deciduous trees have long since lost all their leaves.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2011 at 10:26 AM

  4. Nice to see trees with foliage, and pretty colors too. All the leaves are gone now in Chicago. Well, a few dead brown ones hanging on but that’s about it. I’m already tired of winter and there are three months left to go!


    December 18, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    • I think we’re all enjoying the lingering colors down here. You can understand all too well why I live as far south as central Texas!

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2011 at 3:33 PM

  5. The color is spectacular! The photo reminds me of a Dryad spirit taking flight. ~ Lynda

    (For any who may wonder what I’m talking about: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/d/dryads.html )


    December 18, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    • I’m glad the colors appealed to you as much as they did to me, Lynda. I’d been waiting for things to Dry-out, but you’ve done me one better by calling our attention to the Dry-ad that we can imagine associated with this cedar elm.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2011 at 4:35 PM

  6. […] think about when they hear the term “fall color” is maples, oaks, flameleaf sumacs, cedar elms and various other trees, but the often lowly though much-scorned and much-feared poison ivy, like […]

  7. […] leaf color. Examples that you’ve seen so far have been the leaves of rattan, Texas red oak, cedar elm, flameleaf sumac, and even poison ivy. Cometh now a native grass that botanists call Chasmanthium […]

  8. […] weeks ago I reported that fall color had suddenly descended on Austin. At that time I showed you the yellow leaves of cedar elm, and now I’ll add the orange leaves of rattan, Berchemia scandens, that I photographed in my […]

  9. this is lovely


    January 9, 2017 at 5:03 AM

    • I wish I could have found a scene like this last month, but central Texas had a dull fall, even by the standards of a place with too warm a climate for much fall foliage.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 9, 2017 at 6:30 AM

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