Four Season Virtual Tree Trail

At the Trailhead in the Fall

 

There are a multitude of colors along the tree trail in the fall.  The cooler  temperatures and shorter days cause the trees to shut down their food-making processes in the leaves.  The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves, leaving behind yellow and orange pigments.  Glucose trapped in the leaves results in red and purple colors.

Migrating birds flit through the branches, the colors and patterns of their plumage often muted this time of year.

 

 
The Trailhead in the Fall

Fall is a time when many trees are fruiting, so look closely at the surface of the trail as you walk along.  Many fruits and seeds can be found along the trail this way.   Animals preparing for winter are busy gathering and storing these fruits and seeds and you can often see them carrying some choice morsel to a hiding spot.

From the trailhead the trail slopes up gently towards station one.  Note the bright colors of the Sugar Maples on the left of the trail at the trailhead.  On the right is a stand of Eastern Hophornbeams.  Look for the hop-like catkins drooping from the branches of the Eastern Hophornbeams.  We will learn more about this species later on the trail.

Note the many limestone outcroppings on the left side of the trail as you make your way to station one.  Many of the trees and plants here are adapted to thrive in a limestone rich environment. 

Poison Ivy

Fall is a time of rapid change.  Early in the season you can still see many wildflowers along the edges of the tree trail.  Insects like cicadas can be heard, and at night the sounds of crickets and Katy-dids are prominent.  But as the night temperatures drop, you begin to see more and more color not only in the leaves of the trees, but also in plants like the poison ivy shown at right.  Enjoy its bright foliage without touching it!  Look for the small light-colored berries which are the fruit of the Poison Ivy.  They are a favorite with many birds.

 

   
Webmaster: Amanda Sherlin
The Center for Environmental Education is a branch of the MTSU Biology Department
Web Design, Imaging and Recordings 2008 Bob English, Leaps