Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

“Fall” foliage in winter

with 41 comments

From my neighborhood on January 4th comes this emblematic leaf of an oak (Quercus spp.).
You could say the composition is minimalist; you’d have trouble making that claim about the color gamut.

Notice how far into the season we were still seeing isolated instances of colorful foliage.
The same outing brought another example, this time from a cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia).

While yellow is the most common fall color for cedar elms, I also found two leaves that had turned orange.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 15, 2019 at 4:48 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

41 Responses

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  1. i love these bits of color at this time of year, brightens the gray days


    January 15, 2019 at 4:58 AM

  2. Red oak happens to be one of those trees that really should be more popular here than it is. For some reason, it does not make too many acorns! I really do not know why. I know that is something that people dislike about it in other regions, but we just do not have a problem with it. Sometimes, I wonder if it is just because there are no old specimens about, and that they will eventually start to make acorns and become a problem, but by that time, they will be too prominent to cut down.


    January 15, 2019 at 7:45 AM

    • Over the last couple of weeks the Monterrey oak on our front lawn has dropped a mess of acorns along the curb.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 15, 2019 at 9:35 AM

      • Monterrey oak? Is that Monterrey in Texas, and is it spelled with two ‘r’s?


        January 15, 2019 at 9:36 AM

        • From what I can tell, it’s the Monterrey in Mexico. This species is apparently also called Mexican white oak. The USDA map shows it growing in one Texas border county.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 15, 2019 at 12:07 PM

      • Oh, Quercus polymorpha! I have never heard of it. It does not look like a white oak. It looks more like a Southern live oak.


        January 15, 2019 at 9:37 AM

        • If you could see the actual tree on my lawn you wouldn’t take it for a live oak.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 15, 2019 at 12:12 PM

          • There are surprisingly few good pictures of it online.


            January 16, 2019 at 12:11 AM

            • And I’ve never photographed ours because it’s not native. Here’s an article about it from an Austin website:


              Steve Schwartzman

              January 16, 2019 at 5:19 AM

              • I am not certain if that article makes me like or dislike it. With so many oaks in Texas, I am not certain I would want an exotic in my own garden. I like exotic oaks here only because the natives do not like landscape situations so much.
                There happens to be a link to another article about the Mexican sycamore that is becoming more popular in the Los Angeles region. I rather dislike the London plane, but I am not certain that I like the Mexican sycamore any more.


                January 16, 2019 at 9:09 AM

                • Right. I wouldn’t have planted a Monterrey oak, given that it’s not native within hundreds of miles of here, but the tree was already growing when we moved in in 2004.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  January 16, 2019 at 12:29 PM

                • That is how I got my sweetgum that was planted in 1959 or so. I really liked that tree. Not many of our native trees work well in landscapes.


                  January 16, 2019 at 2:25 PM

      • Oaks can be so baffling. Our native California black oak is the closest we have to a red oak, but it is really more closely related to a live oak. I don’t know how that works. Our native white oak is known as the valley oak, and it really is grand. For many years, I lived next door to what was purported to be the biggest valley oak in the Santa Clara Valley.


        January 15, 2019 at 9:39 AM

  3. Those are beautiful photos of those leaves!

    Lavinia Ross

    January 15, 2019 at 10:43 AM

  4. As with most things aging, these have acquired a lot of character to accompany the color.

    Steve Gingold

    January 15, 2019 at 2:53 PM

  5. Gorgeous beauties 🌿


    January 15, 2019 at 5:54 PM

  6. It’s like a gift in winter!!


    January 15, 2019 at 6:02 PM

  7. I very much enjoyed these bursts of color on such a gray day! 🙂

    M.B. Henry

    January 15, 2019 at 6:03 PM

  8. These are just lovely shots, Steve. When we contemplated moving to Austin, we were concerned that we would miss fall colors, a favorite here in Upstate NY. I should have listened to my inner self. I don’t regret my decision but I do love Texas!


    January 15, 2019 at 9:50 PM

    • I had no idea (or else forgot!) that you once contemplated moving to Austin. Yes, we have isolated bright year-end colors, but you probably would have come to miss the vaster fall foliage of upstate New York. You probably wouldn’t have missed your region’s long, long winters. I heard on the news the other day that Austin’s within-city-limits population might reach one million in the next census; how you’d have liked living in such an increasingly crowded place, I don’t know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2019 at 5:12 AM

  9. Great studies Steve. These would look great in a living room.


    January 16, 2019 at 12:34 AM

  10. I’m just wondering if “sudden oak death” is reaching your end of the country. It seems that we’re anticipating its spread here from California.


    January 16, 2019 at 2:31 PM

  11. I’m especially taken with the second photo. Not only are the colors delightful (a true, unblemished orange seems unusual to me), the texture is luscious, and the edge detail is perfect. I’ve been trying to identify some trees that I believe to be elms, and now I know for certain that they aren’t cedar elm. I just can’t get over that texture; I can almost feel its roughness under my fingers.


    January 17, 2019 at 8:37 AM

    • The “crass” in the species name gets it right for cedar elms, whose leaves are rough and stiff. While I don’t know how to tell other elms apart, the texture of cedar elm leaves makes identification easy. As for the orange, it’s not all that common in this species, but it isn’t truly rare, either. What seems unusual is for two leaves to be so almost uniformly orange. Whether they passed through a yellower stage, I don’t know. I notice that the portion of the leaf visible above them has margins that are turning orange, with the color seeming to be spreading to the interior. And speaking of margins, in some of the pictures that I took, the tips of the leaves didn’t stay in focus with the wide aperture I had to use. As long as I got a few sharp images, I was happy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 17, 2019 at 9:05 AM

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