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Scarlet ribbons

Consistently outstanding autumn color in almost any year is delivered by maples of several species. Virginia creeper is as pretty and widespread, but in its entanglements, not usually so well displayed:

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

And the reds of poison ivy, Toxicodendron/Rhus radicans, are even more intensely saturated, due to shiny waterproofing—but tend not to be available for such large displays due to certain intolerant bipeds and their broad–spectrum herbicides. Native is often best; in fact, the prolonged retention of pallid yellow leaves is an easy way to mark invasive Norway maples, (and glossy buckthorn) at considerable distance.

In a year as ferociously dry as this has been, many examples of the Acer genus not growing in swamps suffer early leaf-drop before the full rainbow sequence has a chance to play out. Fortunately, there are exceptions even in the highlands:

In cool shade, by contrast, the presentation is largely unabated:

Rhododendron carolinianum (?)

And sometimes stress brings out the best…

Where not blasted completely, several of our common oaks can deliver a fair show, more so against a backdrop of green conifer and blue water

or an angry grey sky, especially given the spectral sharpening of a low sunset:

And on the topics of rainbow sequences, spectral sharpening and angry skies, a sub-horizon morning sun here squeezes its Rayleigh-filtered rays high onto an abandoned oriole nest

while a half-mile north, the same lantern elicits from a passing squall just one near-vertical leg of a chromatically attenuated arc: