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Why do leaves change color in the fall
Published: 11/23/2022
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The gorgeous colors of trees in the fall is a well-known phenomenon, perfect for sight-seeing and observing nature’s beauty. Let’s look at why trees change color in the fall. Tree leaves are usually green, but the yellow and orange hues that show during the fall season are actually constantly present inside the leaf as well. Chlorophyll, the pigment that drives the process of photosynthesis to create energy for the plant, contributes to the green color of the leaf. Meanwhile, carotenoids (also responsible for the color of carrots and egg yolks) create the orange and yellow hues. Leaves always contain both of these, but chlorophyll’s ultra vital role in producing food for the tree from sunlight means they are present in much higher amounts, and the green overtakes any orange and yellow that could show during the spring and summer months. As temperatures cool, and levels of sunlight lowers, the production of chlorophyll slows down and give way to the brilliant yellows and oranges hiding in the leaf. But wait, leaves can also have shades ranging from red to purple! These are the colors that are truly borne uniquely in the fall. As chlorophyll breaks down and the trees start preparing to close their stems off to all of its leaves, sugar starts to pool and accumulate in the leaf itself. This triggers the production of anthocyanin, which creates beautiful red and purple leaves, as well as the color in berries and other fruits and vegetables! The level of sunlight a leaf receives can affect why it changes color earlier compared to leaves on a different part of the tree. Many times, leaves on the bottom part of a tree that received less sunlight stay green longer, creating a nice gradient effect throughout the tree. Temperatures throughout the night, as well as levels of sunlight, will affect how vibrant autumn leaves appear, meaning with each year comes a fresh sight to enjoy.