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U.S. Forest Service

Wildflowers, Part of the Pageantry of Fall Colors

Look up into the trees and you'll find beautiful vistas of leaves changing color in different regions of the United States in the fall. Look down at the forest floor and you'll find an even greater array of colors. There are approximately 20,000 wildflower species in the United States. The U.S. Forest Service has many stories to share with you about our wildflowers.

For many of these wildflowers, fall is the time of the year when they flower. Who can resist the blues and whites of asters, the yellows of goldenrods and sunflowers, and the spectacular red of cardinal flower?

“O while my eye the landscape views,
What countless beauties are display’d;
What varied tints of nameless hues,
Shades endless melting into shade.”

From the poem “Autumn”, John Clare, 1821


Forest botanist shares favorite memories of a cool breeze, sights and smells of autumn from the Tetons

Visitors to the the North Fork Indian Creek, Palisades District can find Greene's mountain ash (Sorbus scopulina) and thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) ablaze in the fall on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest as shown in this September 2005 image. (U.S. Forest Service)

The Caribou-Targhee National Forest stretches the length of the eastern edge of Idaho and includes the western backbone of the Teton Range in Wyoming.

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Scenic drives on North Carolina's national forests show off fall foliage

Visitors enjoy the fall colors while taking a moment to gaze across the landscape from the Wayah Fire Tower on the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. (U.S. Forest Service)

As the days turn cooler, the perennial treat of fall's panorama of spectacular colors offers many opportunities to enjoy the pageantry on the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina.

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Kids and kids at heart can enjoy making and sharing a digital leaf press

Here's a leaf you may find on your adventure. This beautiful collection of leaves on the branch of a blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) shows how the red coloration is revealed as the sugars of the green chlorophyll is absorbed into the tree as it prepares for the cold of winter. Photo courtesy: Larry Stritch

This time of year brings back fond childhood memories. Fall's increasing chill and leaf-covered ground take me back to elementary school, where nature and the changing seasons served as learning material. A favorite lesson I learned was how to create a book of pressed leaves

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Forest Service wants you to get in where you fit in!

A layer of green, yellow and red leaves surround a road that winds past the birch and Sawtooth Mountains on the Superior National Forest.

Every fall, nature puts on a dazzling show across America's great outdoors for all of us to see. Whether you're an adventurist or someone who just likes a good road trip, national forests are the places to be this time of year.

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Change in Seasons Brings Fall Color to Boise National Forest

A fritillary butterfly visits green rabbitbrush flowers on fields in the Boise National Forest. (Photos U.S. Forest Service/Edna Rey-Vizgirdas)

Sometime after Labor Day when the kids go back to school, I begin to notice subtle signs of fall. This can be a welcome relief after a hot summer with temperatures reaching north of 100 degrees. But the days are getting shorter, and I miss the lazy summer evenings spent outdoors, listening to the sounds of nature.

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Autumn Arrives on the Cedar River National Grassland

On the Cedar National Grassland in Sioux and Grant Counties in North Dakota, the grasses are turning various shades of tans and browns punctuated by the orange-yellows of green ash trees emanating from a woody draw.

Autumn has emphatically arrived on the Northern Great Plains and the Dakota Prairie Grasslands. The prairie is transitioning from the exciting greens of summer to its fall wardrobe.

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Cranberries, Nature's Garnets, are Ripening Across the Country

Ready for the picking, ripe small cranberries are readily observed against a backdrop of its dark green leaves. Photo copyright by R.A. Howard, Smithsonian Institution.

As we celebrate the autumn season and as holidays approach, many of us will also be thinking of family gatherings and special menus which may include the colorful and healthy cranberry. Knowing some of the plant's history may just help us enjoy this fruit even more.

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Forest Service Botanist Shares Fall's Native Plant Diversity on South Dakota's Black Hills National Forest

The Bear and Beaver Gulches Botanical Area located on the Northern Hills Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest in southwestern South Dakota offers quiet visitors the best that autumn in the forest can offer a measure of tranquility. Photo by Jill Welborn.

Perhaps it's just me, but I think many people are relieved to see the fall colors and relish the cool mornings here on the Black Hills National Forest.

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A Coat of Many Colors Cloaks Autumn in the Bitterroot National Forest

The Oregon grape in its fall coloring is a collage of green and pinkish-red leaves and blue fruits that resemble grapes.

Several plant species around Montana make their transition from summer to winter unique. This is highlighted in the Bitterroot National Forest.

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Share the Joy of a Botanist's Annual Pilgrimage to the Darlingtonia Fens of the Eastern Klamath Mountains

Klamath Mountains

I dreaded October as a child. Growing up on the Oregon coast, October promised rain and more rain—rain on my birthday, rain on Halloween, rainy rain rain.

What a difference 300 miles and the rain shadow of a mountain range makes! October here in far northern California on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest brings me nothing but pleasure.

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Consider the Alpine Larch in the Northern Rocky Mountains

Forest Service image

Do you think that all evergreen conifers are always evergreen? In general, that’s true but the forested landscapes of the northern Rocky Mountains offer an amazing colorful exception to this each fall with the spectacular shows of the Alpine larch (Larix lyallii).

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Fall Colors on Alaska's National Forests Offer Beautiful Vistas

Forest Service image

Did you ever think about fall colors in Alaska? Now’s the time with autumn foliage colors peaking from late August to early October in Alaska’s Tongass and Chugach National Forests.

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Fall Colors Usher in Autumn in the Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountains

In Colorado, fall arrives in different ways and at different times around the state. Fall can be a spectacular time of year here, with gorgeous colors set against a dusting of white snow on the higher peaks and the occasional late blooming wildflower.

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Fall Wildflowers Are Part of the Fall Colors Parade in the East and South-Central United States

Dittany Flower

Fall is a wonderful time to find an amazing array of wildflowers on your national forests and grasslands. Early morning hikers who are out and about in the hardwood forests of the south-central and eastern United States may be lucky enough to observe the second flowering of dittany (Cunila origanoides).

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Fall Colors the Muskeg on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

Lodgepole Pines

Muskegs, a colloquial term for peat bogs, blanket 10 percent of the Tongass National Forest. These wetlands range in size from a few square feet to many acres. Over the ages, muskegs formed as Sphagnum mosses, rushes and sedges grew and built up spongy carpets in these very wet, almost treeless areas.

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