Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why Leaves Change Color

This is the time of the year when many people around here like to get out and look at all of the wonderful fall colors. It is kind of like a last hurrah of color before month of grey and white winter weather. But have you ever wondered what makes the leaves change color?
Leaves get their green color from a chemical called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what helps plants to convert water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight into glucose which is what the plants eat. During fall the days get shorter and light has to travel further to get to the earth, because the tilt in the planet, the plants can no longer get enough sunlight to perform photosynthesis so they begin to go into a dormant state. As photosynthesis stops the chlorophyll in the leaves begins to break down. Other chemicals that are present in many leaves, like carotenes and xanthophyll, take longer to break down then the chlorophyll. So once the green chlorophyll is gone then the reds, yellows, and oranges of these other chemicals are all that remains until the leaves fall from the tree and end up floating alone at the shore of the river.

11 comments:

jabblog said...

I'm sure I'm not alone in cheering when the chlorophyll breaks down! The autumn colours are so wonderful - a last hurrah to summer and a beautiful lead-in to winter.

Greyscale Territory said...

Enjoyed your clear explanation of how leaf colours in Autumn evolve. Beautiful shots! Especially love the play of light in the rippling water in the last shot!

2sweetnsaxy said...

Beautiful shots. I love the patterns in the water under the leaf. What a great back drop. Thanks for the info about the changing of the leaves colors. Interesting!

Ebie said...

I so love FALL, when leaves turn to orange, gold and red.

Nice effect of the sun's glow on the ripples!

Coffeedoff said...

I love autumn too. Gorgeous photos!

J Bar said...

Great shots.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Rossel said...

this is perfect. awesome!

my entry is here. have a great day!

Emily Brisse said...

Xanthophyll and carotenes... No wonder I can never remember each of these exact details! Thanks for the refresher (and the lovely photography). Cheers!

Poetic Shutterbug said...

You know that is something I've always wondered about so thank you for the info. Beautiful shots.

Helena said...

These are just beautiful! I love seeing all the fall colours, and can't help noticing that they seem so much brighter this year than in years past.

Shirley said...

Nice photos on your blog! I particularly like the lone leaf in the water.