EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Leaves are changing and falling, creating a picturesque scene across the Tri-State, including Wesselman Woods in Evansville. Derek Walsh, Director of Natural Resources and Research, says now is the time to view the vibrant colors. But our recent weather pattern may change the foliage we know and love.

“Drought and abnormal temperatures all induce physiological stress, physical stress, on the trees,” explains Walsh. “And with stress comes potentially abnormal timing of fall foliage, and colors that may be unlike normal colors.”

The recent drought across the Tri-State has caused leaves to fall sooner than anticipated and can alter some of the colors, but Walsh says temperatures have the biggest impact on the changing leaves, using our recent warm-up as an example.

“These trees are not going to get that signal that they usually get of colder temperatures that starts the breakdown of the chlorophyll, which is where the photosynthesis occurs,” says Walsh. “And when the chlorophyll breaks down, that’s where we can start to see these magnificent colors around us. But, with warmer temperatures, that chlorophyll won’t break down, it will still be active in the leaf for longer, so we can expect later peak foliage.”

Walsh goes on to explain that while the timing of the peak foliage could change with extreme precipitation and temperature swings, there should be little to no impact on the colors associated with the changing leaves.