Fall Leaves Brighten Dyke Marsh

Dyke Marsh was aflame in color on October 23, 2023, for the annual fall colors walk sponsored by the Friends of Dyke Marsh and the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS).


VNPS co-leaders Alan Ford and Margaret Chatham explained the characteristics and needs of many plants in the preserve.
Co leader Margaret Chatham explained many of the characteristics of plants along the Haul Road trail
All photos by Glenda Booth
October 23 attendees and co leader Alan Ford studying plants from the boardwalk
Bright orangey-red smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) leaves shimmered in the sun and their clusters of crimson berries pointed skyward.
smooth sumac leaves and fruits
The sweetgum (Liquidamber styraciflua) trees’ star-shaped leaves were transitioning from green to yellow to orange to red.
sweetgum tree leaves
Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum) leaves were almost maroon. 
silky dogwood
Climbing, firetruck red Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) vines seemed to reach for the sun.
virginia creeper climbing tree
Co-leader Alan Ford told the group that the poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) leaves were “showing off,” turning from green to yellow to deep red.
green poison ivy leaves
Here, the Virginia creeper’s leaves are red and the poison ivy leaves are yellow.
yellow poison ivy leaves and red Virginia creeper leaves intertwined
Deep red poison ivy leaves
red poison ivy leaves
The young thorns of the honey locust (Gleditsia triancanthos) were red too.
honey locust thorns
Fall is also a time for seeds.  The narrow-leaf cattails (Typha angustifolia) were releasing seeds to the wind.
cattails are now releasing their seeds
Dangling river oats’ (Chasmanthium latifolium) seedheads shimmered, resembling little fans.
seed heads of river oats
Some blue hues punctuated the green foliage, like the berries of silky dogwoods (Cornus amomum).
blue berries or fruit of the silky dogwood
Frost grape or winter grape (Vitis vulpina), so called as they taste better after a frost.
native grapes






























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