Ruska – The time of autumn splendour when leaves turn into vivid shades of red, yellow and orange

Ruska – The time of autumn splendour when leaves turn into vivid shades of red, yellow and orange

Flaming autumn foliage
Flaming autumn foliage in Äkäskero

When you think about Lapland you probably imagine the never-ending whiteness, trees heavy with snow, and dark winter sky striped with Northern Lights. Just snow as far as the eye can see, right? That is Lapland half of the year, granted, but early autumn in Lapland is another season you don’t want to miss. It’s the time for the autumn foliage to change from summer greens to autumn russet.

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Everyone knows that time of the year during mid-autumn when the trees change their green colour into flaming varieties of red, orange and yellow, and the treetops look like they could be on fire. It is a beautiful time of the year and can be witnessed in all parts of the world with four seasons. The change of attire for the foliage is particularly grand in Lapland due to night frost and dry climate. The colours surround you as the forests go on and on, with waterways running through them, illuminating the colours of the trees on their silvery surfaces.

Ruska starts to appear day by day in late August as the nights cool down, starting from the high fells working its night-frost down to the wetlands. The play of colours is at its most impressive usually around mid-September, after which soon the nature goes into hibernation for the long winter.

Shrubbery in Ruska red
Shrubbery in Ruska red

The phenomenon arises from the fading of light and the cooling of the air. The flora prepare for the long winter, and the leaf green (chlorophyll) travels from the leaves to the branches, through to the trunk and to the roots to be storaged there to wait for the spring. This way the colour agents left in the leaves, the reds, yellows and oranges get the chance to become visible. This process is thus responsible for the eye-watering glow of leaves and shrubbery. The more drastic the night frosts and the drier the air, the brighter the colour brilliance. The birch turns light yellow, the aspen turns red, and the leaves of wild berries, blueberries and whortleberries, glow in shades of vivid red and orange.

The autumn’s flaming colours can actually affect animal behaviour. The birds of the forest flee to the thickets of the coniferous forests, and the fish seek out the darkness of the watery depths.

Lingonberries in September

Ruska period is the perfect time for mushroom and berry picking as well here in Lapland, and as a part of Every Man’s Rights (jokamiehenoikeudet) everyone is allowed to pick and enjoy the fruits of the forest, as long as no machines are used and the picking is done by hand. Early autumn in Lapland is also the favourite time for Finns themselves to travel up here, as the mosquitos of the summer are gone and the nature is quite literally showing its best colours.

If you want to experience this extraordinary time of the year in Lapland, and walk straight into the trails of the Pallas-Ylläs National Park, you are welcome to stay with us in one of our cabins: The traditional Äkäskero log cabins you’ll find here, the Husky Village cabins you’ll find here, and the Husky Village hostel you’ll find here.

If you want to read more about the trails and activities of Pallas-Ylläs National Park, learn more here.