This fall, The Morton Arboretum’s 1,700 acres of trees will again reveal stunning colors, expected to draw thousands of leaf-peepers from around the region. The Arboretum’s collection includes trees from 40 different countries for intense fall color that visitors can’t see anywhere else in the area. Visitors this October can also enjoy tasty fall food and see the Scarecrow Trail, a series of scarecrows created by local Boy and Girl Scouts.
The trees at the Arboretum generally start to change color in mid-September, with the most variety in the first to the third weeks of October. The Arboretum’s official Fall Color Scout, Ed Hedborn, has been monitoring fall color changes at the Arboretum for nearly four decades and will again offer his weekly fall color updates starting in September on the Arboretum’s website, mortonarb.org.
“Color here may come earlier than usual this year, as our trees are still recovering from last year’s drought,” said Hedborn. “Regardless of when we start to see changes, the Arboretum is a fantastic destination for fall color fans, thanks to our unique collection of trees from around the world.”
Fall Color Viewing Tips
The Morton Arboretum is particularly beautiful in the fall, with a greater variety of autumnal colors than anywhere else in the region, thanks to its international collection of trees and plants. The Arboretum’s Asian plants change color at similar times to the North American plants, because of similar climate. The Arboretum’s European tree collection stays green longer, as they’re acclimated to the more moderate European climate.
Hedborn recommends looking for smooth sumac and Staghorn sumac, which turn bright red, are some of the earliest Arboretum plants to turn color, generally peaking in mid-September. Arboretum color can last until November, when the Asiatic Pear trees peak. Sugar maples, with their vivid fall colors, are the most popular Arboretum tree for fall color.
Top color viewing spots include the Arboretum’s East Woods, the Maple and Oak Collections and Sterling Pond, where visitors can see the fall colors reflected in the water. Hedborn recommends checking the weather before coming out – but not for the reason you may think. Sunny days aren’t always the best days to come see the colors, as fall colors are actually more vivid in cloudy weather.
Fall Color Festival
The Fall Color Festival kicks off with the 10th annual Fall Color 5K Run & Walk and Kid’s Dash on Sunday, October 6. Throughout the month of October, visitors can enjoy juicy brats, build-your-own taffy apples and other mouth-watering bites available for purchase in Arbor Court. Plus, sample complimentary wine tastings. The festival will be open weekends in October and Columbus Day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additionally, Scarecrow Trail will be back around Meadow Lake, with nature-based scarecrows created by local Girl and Boy Scout Troops. Open daily in October, 7 a.m. to sunset.