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story.lead_photo.caption This photo shows trees in fall color at Peck Ranch Conservation Area in southeastern Missouri. Photo by Courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

When the air gets crisp and the leaves start to change color, Mother Nature displays a spectacular color kaleidoscope.

It can be seen in the foliage of trees, vines and shrubs.

It's one of the benefits of living here in the Show-Me State, along with fall festivals, pumpkin farms and apple cider.

In a University of Missouri Extension news release, David Trinklein, a horticulturist in the organization, said some years are better than others.

About once per decade fall colors really pop. This year might be one of those years, he said.

The colors begin to change in the north and move south. Different deciduous woody plant species change colors at different times, causing the fall colors to last a month or longer.

The Missouri Department of Conservation says the sassafras, sumac and Virginia creeper are some of the earliest to change, beginning in mid-September. By late September, black gum, bittersweet and dogwood are turning.

The peak of fall color in Missouri likely is this week or a little bit later. This is when maples, ashes, oaks and hickories are at the height of their fall display, MDC says. Normally by late October, the colors are fading and the leaves beginning to drop from the trees. Fall color is usually finished by the middle of November.

The intensity of the fall colors depends on factors such as the amount of rain throughout the year, light and temperatures. To see the full MDC fall color report, visit nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/fall-colors.

This fall, we urge you to stop and smell the roses — or in this case, take a stroll with your family to witness the beauty of fall.

News Tribune

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