A deciduous tree’s beautiful autumn colors are a prelude to the loss of its leaves. Thin leaf tissue freezes easily, and trees constantly lose water through the leaves, so a tree must seal them off and drop its leaves to preserve its own health through the winter cold. Some trees tend to cling to their dead leaves for a while, but the water vessels are sealed off, so the trees are not harmed. For example, white oaks may wear a “skirt” of brown leaves on their lower branches well into winter. And beech trees may cling to their papery amber leaves until the new buds swell in spring.
Here's the latest update on fall color in Virginia. In the upper Piedmont, considerable color can still be seen, though colors are past peak. In the lower Piedmont, colors are at or just past peak. In the Coastal Plain of Virginia, significant color can be seen on the Peninsula. On the Eastern Shore, roughly fifty-percent of the trees have color.