ST. LOUIS — Many of us look forward to fall colors with vibrant oranges, reds and yellows … but this year, brown could dominate the color palette.
The reason for a lackluster fall outlook: summer.
"A lot of stress," Daria McKelvey, supervisor for the Kemper Center for Home Gardening at the Missouri Botanical Garden, explained to 5 On Your Side. "High temperatures, high humidity and they're trying to take up moisture from the soil and there's not much. I can't say that trees get this way, but think of us having a parched throat, maybe that's what they feel like under dry conditions."
However a parched throat feels, that's certainly what some trees looked like at Forest Park. A short walk around the Jewel Box revealed a few trees struggling with drought stress. The picture below is from one of those trees. The dry and browning edges are a telltale sign of leaf scorch.
McKelvey confirmed the finding and said despite watering during the peak summer heat there are trees at the Missouri Botanical Garden with leaf scorch too.
"We're seeing it in some of our trees," she said. "They got a little scorched with that last heat wave we had, with the high humidity and temperatures. A lot of trees have dropped as a result and also with the drought they may be dropping more leaves now too."
Prematurely released leaves could dull our autumn tree lines. "If we don't get enough moisture, especially going into October, we'll probably see faster leaf drop and also the colors will not be as intense," McKelvey tells 5 On Your Side, "We may get a little bit here and there, but not to what we have seen in previous years."
Not every tree will be brown and bare; some will have had just enough rain or shade to put on a fall show.
"There will still be some color, some of our trees are going to show that," McKelvey said, "so we can still look forward to a little bit this year."