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updated: 9/30/2013 5:14 PM

Tips for getting the most from fall colors

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By Sarah Clark
Morton Arboretum

The Morton Arboretum's 1,700 acres of trees will again reveal stunning colors this fall that are expected to draw thousands of leaf-peepers from around the region.

The arboretum's collection includes trees from 40 different countries and provide intense fall color visitors can't see anywhere else in the area.

The trees at the arboretum generally start to change color in mid-September, with the most variety in the first to third weeks of October. The arboretum's official Fall Color Scout Ed Hedborn has been monitoring fall color changes at the arboretum for nearly four decades and will again offer his weekly fall color updates on the arboretum's website, You also can call the arboretum's Bloom 'n Color Hotline at (630) 719-7955.

"Color here may come earlier than usual this year, as our trees are still recovering from last year's drought," Hedborn said. "Regardless of when we start to see changes, the arboretum is a fantastic destination for fall color fans, thanks to our unique collection of trees from around the world."

Fall viewing tips

Here are some of Hedborn's fall color viewing tips:

• Smooth sumac and staghorn sumac, which turn bright red, are some of the earliest plants to turn color, generally peaking in mid-September. Arboretum color can last until November, when the Asiatic pear trees peak.

• Sugar maples, with their vivid fall colors, are the most popular arboretum tree for fall color.

• The arboretum's Asian plants change color at similar times to the North American plants, because of similar climate.

• The arboretum's European tree collection stays green longer, as they're acclimated to the more moderate European climate.

• Top color viewing spots include the arboretum's East Woods, the maple and oak collections and Sterling Pond, where visitors can see the fall colors reflected in the water.

• A sunny day isn't always the best day to come see the colors -- fall colors are actually more vivid in cloudy weather.

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