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Coastal Mississippi Fall Colors

Coastal Mississippi is rich in fall colors, despite what some may say. No, the change in season here does not produce the startling multi-colored landscapes of the Appalachian or East Coast regions of the country, but our colors are there nonetheless, if we take the time to see and enjoy them.

I for one am tired of hearing people say that we lack fall colors. I am especially disturbed when I hear that certain exotic trees and shrubs are the prettiest fall colors around. Ugh! Well, I challenge each of you to help me dispel this untruth by celebrating our fall colors and telling folks about them.

Get out in your own yards, pay attention to the plants along our roadsides, or head to your favorite park or nature trail. Take note of the ever-brightening colors of the leaves of the trees and shrubs that are often overlooked.

From the deep copper-brown of cypress trees to the bright red of swamp maples, the colors are right before our eyes. These colors do not combine to dominate our landscape, as much as add smaller bright spots in a sea of green. For we live in a largely evergreen landscape, dominated by the greens of pines and a wide range of evergreen trees and shrubs, like live oak, magnolia, and hollies.

But green is also a color and there is a rich range of hue across our evergreen species. Looking beyond this sea of green are the bright yellow leaves of muscadine, hickory, or tulip poplar, mixed with the reds of winged sumac, sourwood and red maple. Maroon is the color of black gum or the leaves and stems of Elliott’s blueberry.

Not to be left out, brown is also a dominate fall color! Some of the riches hues of brown belong to broom sedges and other grasses and sedges found along roadsides and in our wet pine savannas.

Our fall colors may not be worthy of a landscape scene on a post card, but they are spectacular in their own right – enjoyed closeup – without having to travel far to see them.

Hope to see you in our great outdoors!


Written by Mark W. LaSalle, Ph.D.

Mark is a naturalist and wetland ecologist, providing expertise on wetlands, water quality and environmental impacts of humans. He has also developed and conducted a number of environmental education programs and workshops for youth, teachers, realtors, and the general public on a variety of subjects including wetlands, natural history, and environmental landscaping. Mark is a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana (B.S. and M.S. degrees) and Mississippi State University (Ph.D.). Mark is the recipient of the Chevron Conservation Award, the Mississippi Wildlife Federation Conservation Educator Award, the Gulf Guardian Award, and the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award.


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