Iowa Fall Foliage

If you are wondering why the leaves are changing colors early this year--yes, indeed: it's because of drought.* According to the U.S. drought monitor, all of Johnson County is colored "abnormally dry" on its Iowa map. This means you'll have to grab your favorite flora identification books ASAP if you want to go on some lovely, tree and shrub-identifying fall hikes.

The Bur Oak guides are my favorite. The full-page photos make for some easy matching of the leaves you see in person with the leaves you see on the page. Two I can't recommend highly enough are Forest and Shade Trees of Iowa and Shrubs and Vines of Iowa. They will teach you the difference between red and white mulberry.

Can't make it to the library? The Iowa DOT has a 54-page PDF Guide to Common Trees & Shrubs, and the Iowa State University Forestry Extension has an Interactive Tree Identification tool you can play around with.

Happy hiking!

*The Des Moines Register reported on this effect a couple of days ago.

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