About this time of year, we native Californians start hearing the plaintive wails of transplanted residents from the Northeast and the Midwest. They're missing their dose of autumn color.
That means it's time to stamp our feet and reprise our seasonal reminder:
We do too have fall color in California!
In fact, we might have better color than any other region, say leaf-peeping experts like John Poimiroo, a former state tourism director who now operates the definitive website and blog on the topic, www.californiafallcolor.com.
"I believe we actually have the greatest fall color," says Poimiroo, who has been tracking autumnal changes here since the 1980s. "It's certainly the longest season and most dependable. It begins in August and runs though December with color throughout the state."
And for that, credit goes to California's geographical variety -- its peaks and valleys.
"What's different here is that fall color descends by elevation, whereas in New England, it descends by latitude," Poimiroo explains. "That means if you don't happen to be at the exact location in New England during the week when it's peaking, you missed it entirely.
"Whereas in California, if you missed it peaking at Sabrina Lake, then just motor over to June Lake nearby at a lower elevation for an equally great display."
The Golden State's legendary Mediterranean climate also helps create a more varied, longer lasting display of color. "I've actually had reports from Los Angeles in December," he says.
And don't dismiss the non-native trees close to home, says Busara Melrose, arborist for Our City Forest, a San Jose-based nonprofit group that promotes urban plantings.
"Chinese pistache has dynamite fall color," Melrose says.
In the coming weeks, you will be able to spot some of those glowing a brilliant orange through the sunlight along Interstate 680 in the East Bay, I-280 on the Peninsula, and I-80 in Solano and Yolo counties.
3 types of fall color
Mother Nature's display isn't all about maples. You can find fall color wherever you find trees and other plantings, experts say.
Native: In California, the traditional showy display is provided by such natives as the aspen, the black oak, the bigleaf maple, the California sycamore, the Pacific dogwood and the Pacific madrone.
Agricultural: The state's rich agricultural heritage adds to the autumnal mix. Look for color in apricot, plum and walnut tree orchards throughout the state as well as on the cabernet and chardonnay vines and other varietals in the wine regions.
Landscaped: Nonnative trees (aka "exotics") provide lots of close-to-home color. Keep an eye out for the leaves of the Chinese pistache, liquidambar, birch and gingko trees in the urban landscape.
-- Linda Zavoral