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Autumn Leaf Color

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn leaf colorMaple Leaf

Autumn leaf color is a phenomenon that affects the normally green leaves of many deciduous trees and shrubs by which they take on, during a few weeks in the autumn season, various shades of red, yellow, purple, black, orange, pink, magenta, blue and brown. The phenomenon is commonly called autumn colours or autumn foliage in British English and fall colors, fall foliage or simply foliage in American English.

In some areas of Canada and the United States, "leaf peeping" tourism is a major contribution to economic activity. This tourist activity occurs between the beginning of color changes and the onset of leaf fall, usually around September and October in the Northern Hemisphere and April to May in the Southern

 

Chlorophyll

A green leaf is green because of the presence of a pigment known as chlorophyll, which is inside an organelle called a chloroplast. When they are abundant in the leaf's cells, as they are during the growing season, the chlorophyll's green color dominates and Fall leafmasks out the colors of any other pigments that may be present in the leaf. Thus, the leaves of summer are characteristically green.

In this leaf, the veins are still green, while the other tissue is turning red. This produces a fractal-like pattern
Chlorophyll has a vital function: it captures solar rays and uses the resulting energy in the manufacture of the plant's food — simple sugars which are produced from water and carbon dioxide. These sugars are the basis of the plant's nourishment — the sole source of the carbohydrates needed for growth and development. In their food-manufacturing process, the chlorophylls break down, thus are being continually "used up". During the growing season, however, the plant replenishes the chlorophyll so that the supply remains high and the leaves stay green.

 

Anthocyanins

The reds, the purples, and their blended combinations that decorate autumn foliage come from another group of pigments in the cells called anthocyanins. Unlike the carotenoids, these pigmentsAnthocyanins are not present in the leaf throughout the growing season, but are actively produced towards the end of summer. They develop in late summer in the sap of the cells of the leaf, and this development is the result of complex interactions of many influences—both inside and outside the plant. Their formation depends on the breakdown of sugars in the presence of bright light as the level of phosphate in the leaf is reduced.

During the summer growing season, phosphate is at a high level. It has a vital role in the breakdown of the sugars manufactured by chlorophyll, but in the fall, phosphate, along with the other chemicals and nutrients, moves out of the leaf into the stem of the plant. When this happens, the sugar-breakdown process changes, leading to the production of anthocyanin pigments. The brighter the light during this period, the greater the production of anthocyanins and the more brilliant the resulting color display. When the days of autumn are bright and cool, and the nights are chilly but not freezing, the brightest colorations usually develop.timeanddate.com

 

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