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The Vibrant Colours of autumn in Northern Ontario

Come autumn, Ontario woodlands transform into a vast canopy of rainbow-like colours. It attracts naturists and road-trippers from around the world, most of whom attribute the climate shift to the changing colours. Interestingly, the weather has little to do with it.

Leaves act as solar panels, absorbing sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose—its energy. This process is called photosynthesis.

In the fall, the days here in Ontario grow shorter, meaning fewer hours of daylight. Consequently, the leaves cannot create as much energy. As its reserves deplete, new colours begin to shine. The weather only affects how bright the colours look: autumn’s temperateness allows them to radiate more so than any hot or cold season.

Coniferous Trees Comprise the Bulk of Northern Ontario’s Woodlands

The Greater Sudbury Area contains 94.7% coniferous trees. Other regions in the north share a similar ratio. Yet, regarding fall colours, conifers do not contribute much to the vibrancy. Known as evergreens, they retain their needles year-round, dropping only their oldest needles in the fall.

Worldwide, there are 600 species of conifers; however, only 30-or-so are native to Canada. Here are a few popular ones:

  • Balsam fir,
  • Larch,
  • Tamarack,
  • Spruce,
  • Pines,
  • Eastern White Cedar,
  • Eastern Hemlock.

Common Hardwood (Deciduous) Trees in the Greater Sudbury Area and Their Fall Colours


Yellow Birch [Learn more about this tree]


American Beech [Learn more about this tree]


Oak [Learn more about this tree]fall4


Ash [Learn more about this tree]


Black Locust [Learn more about this tree]


Maple [Learn more about this tree]

Ontario Parks maintains a list of regions and the transitions they experience during autumn. You can consult this list for real-time updates on the colour progressions of leaves in Ontario.