British Columbia·Feature

Fall leaves create explosion of colour in Vancouver

Vancouver's leaf bearing trees create a natural beauty that's worth a look.

Across the city, trees produce a vibrant palette of orange, red and yellow

A view of downtown Vancouver as seen from Jericho Beach Park. (Christer Waara Submitted)

As fall settles in Vancouver — vibrant colours have taken over the city. Leaves, in hues of yellow, orange and red are falling from trees, covering the ground.

In Vancouver, there are approximately 150,000 street trees and 350,000 trees in parks, according to officials. 

About 75 per cent are deciduous, leaf-bearing trees. Vancouver's most common tree is the maple, which accounts for roughly 25 per cent of the city's trees.

Cherry trees are the second most common, accounting for 20 per cent of trees. Others include the Crimean linden (4,497 trees), the common horse chestnut (2,265), European beech (1,907) and American elm (1,825).

Red maple leaves clash with green at Kits Point. (Christer Waara Submitted)

Trees that produce the most leaves include red oaks, tulip trees, maples and ash.

Vancouver city crews start to clear leaves from streets once the tree canopy is bare. This year, it is scheduled to begin Nov. 14.

A cyclist rides through a sea of maple leaves on Hornby Street. (Christer Waara Submitted)

An average of 5,000 tonnes of leaves are collected in Vancouver each year from 1,400 kilometres of city streets. The city uses 16 sweepers, four loaders, eight dump trucks, eight tow trucks and 12 pickup trucks to clear the leaves.

Some streets need multiple passes.

Red Maple leaves cover a car on Trutch Street. (Christer Waara Submitted)

Collected leaves are taken to the Vancouver landfill in Delta, where they are turned into compost. The compost can be purchased by residential and commercial gardeners.

Maple leaves take flight at Locarno Beach Park. (Christer Waara Submitted)

Vancouver's tree canopy covers about 18 per cent of the city. That's down from nearly 23 per cent in 1998.

By 2055, the city hopes to have the canopy back up to 22 per cent through years of planting more trees.

A leafy, multi-colored palette from the Coal Harbour area. (Christer Waara Submitted)

The city says about 20,000 metric tonnes of CO2 are absorbed by the city's trees every year.

Arborists not only select trees to plant based on how they can help the environment, but also for their splendour and variation of colour.

Ginko biloba leaves are known for their pungent smell. (Christer Waara Submitted)

For some people, the city's 223 ginkgo biloba trees, sometimes called maidenhair trees, give off a bad smell. The odour comes from the nuts produced by female trees in the fall.

A red maple leaf rests on a bed of Japanese maple at Kits Point. (Submitted by Christer Waara)

Every tree on a Vancouver city street has its own ID number. A database of the trees, searchable by neighbourhood and block, is available on the city's website.

Various maple trees exist in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver. (Christer Waara Submitted)

When leaf collection begins, the city wants residents to obey no-stopping or parking signs on streets where crews are working.  

Residents can compost leaves from their own yards at the Vancouver South Transfer Station at 377 West Kent Ave. North and at the Vancouver Landfill at 5400 72nd Street in Delta.

A leafy palette at Jericho Beach Park. (Christer Waara Submitted)