Last Vestiges of Fall, Part 1

Published on

  Last week was the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Show and the OSU Green Industry Short Course and I took a few pastry-seeking walks down to German Village from the Columbus Convention Center. With this weekend’s cold and snow, let us remember some of the – last vestiges of fall, starting above with florist's geraniums, sure to no longer be with us.


  Barberry (Berberis) fall foliage is quite colorful, and while fact-checking a bit, I was surprised to learn that the Berberidaceae family also includes two of my favorite wildflowers, Podophyllum (may-apple) and Jeffersonia (twinleaf). As to barberry, there are native and non-native barberries and you find many non-native cultivated barberry seedlings in Ohio woodlands. European barberry (Berberis vulgaris) was a major issue when black stem rust of wheat disease was a major contributor to wheat shortages following World War II. European barberries are alternate hosts for the wheat rust fungus (Puccinia graminis) and Rust Buster clubs were popular at the local grange to bring in barberry pelts, so to speak, in order to break the disease cycle.


Barberry with orange-red-purple fall color


  Beech (Fagus) fall foliage? I admit that I never think of it much in the context of fall color, except for the fact that American beech (Fagus grandifolia) foliage is marcescent (remains into the winter) in woodlands, turning from golden to silver, before being replaced in the spring with soft green new foliage. Yet, European beech (Fagus sylvatica), the beech planted horticulturally, was glistening with orange-reds in German Village.


 fall color of beech


  Clematis achenes (fruits) with their hairs and oils can be quite irritating to skin and poisonous to some animals, but they are also quite spectacular in the summer and fall. I admit that I have not followed them into the winter so do not know how long they persist – teach me, please!  The genus Clematis, with all its hundreds of species is in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). 


clematis fruits



  Flowering dogwood Cornus florida) is best known for its large creamy-white bracts of spring, its spring and summer foliage and its bright red fruits, but fall foliar color is also outstanding, and last week just a few spectacular leaves remained on a tree I have been watching through the season at German Village near the  Pistacia Vera parking lot.


fall color of dogwood leaf


  Shrub Dogwoods with red twigs (not sure of the species) is part of an outstanding parkland display of fall and winter color and texture features in downtown Columbus.   


shrub dogwood with red twigs


  Elm (Ulmus) leaves are also not generally known for ornamental effect, but I have started noticing the beauty of fallen patches of leaves this season and these from elms were still effective last week.  


yellow elm leaves on ground


  Many non-native honeysuckles (Lonicera) are not appreciated as invaders in natural areas, but one feature that helps us understand the success of these invasive honeysuckles is that not only do they turn on their photosynthetic food factories before other plants in the spring, but they also last a good bit longer in the fall, as evident from these freeway honeysuckles along the 1-70 separation between German Village and downtown Columbus.    


honeysuckle flower and foliage


honeysuckle in late fall