Autumn leaf colour is a spectacular natural phenomenon that paints the arboretum like the northern temperate forests in delightful hues. The leaf colour acts as a messenger of sorts; bidding autumn-colours-at-the-western-himalayan-temperate-arboretum-shimla_1farewell to the wet monsoons and also reminds us of the cold winters that is just around the corner. The variety of deciduous broadleaf trees (alders, dogwoods, black locust, birch, hornbeam, planes, chestnuts, sapphire berry, maples, mulberry, oaks, poplars, sumacs, walnut, etc) and evergreen conifers (deodar, fir, pines, spruce, yew and cypress, etc) as well as ripe fruit berries (hawthorn, firethorn, common ivy, barberry)  and moss and ferns on the ground provide an array of hues of green, auburn, blue, red and yellow so vivid that not admiring them would be a crime.autumn-colours-at-the-western-himalayan-temperate-arboretum-shimla_2

An admixture of these deciduous and evergreen trees with an array of topographic features blends perfectly in many locations across the arboretum landscape.


Come autumn and we take pleasure in the beauty of the leaf colours on these trees.autumn-colours-at-the-western-himalayan-temperate-arboretum-shimla_4

It is that time of the year, the autumn season, when the leaves are beginning to fall in hues of the fading colours of orange, brown, red and green – thus rightly also referred to as the “fall season”.

These leaves look lovely when they are in these hues, many times highlighted by rays of sunlight, contrasting with the evergreen foliage.

All these autumn colours are due to the mixing of varying amounts of the chlorophyll residue and other pigments present in the trees leaf.


Other noteworthy trees who provide colour to the landscape include the Oriental Plane/Chinar (Platanus orientalis), Chinese Alangium /Bamanpatti (Alangium chinense), Himalayan Pear (Pyrus pashia), etc.


Besides, the trees, some woody lianas like the two common, naturally occurring Himalayan Woodbine (Parthenocissus semicordata) and the common ivy (Hedera helix), as they climb up into the temperate tree canopies, spreading branches hanging down, provide amazing colours to the arboretum.

Enjoy the autumn colours; remember it only occurs for a brief period each year.




Dr. Vaneet Jishtu, a field botanist specialising in high altitude himalayan flora, conducts a wide range of research at Himalayan Forest Research Institute (HFRI), where he works. At Shimla he has pioneered in setting up an arboretum, a botanical garden where a vast collection of Himalayan trees have been planted. He lives in Shimla

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