September: Changing of the Leaves

Background

Do you know why leaves are green? Leaves are green because they have pigments called chlorophyll.  Between early Spring through early Autumn the leaves soak up as much sunlight as possible.  Sunlight is one of the most important ingredients in the production of chlorophyll.  When the leaves produce large amounts of chlorophyll they become green. Leaves become green and remain green from the ample amount of sunlight throughout the growing seasons.

In middle to late fall, the amount of sunlight begins to decrease each day, which in turn decreases the amount of chlorophyll trees can produce. When the production of chlorophyll stops, another pigment found in trees shines through called carotenoid. Carotenoid produces the wonderful foliage you see in the fall and can be seen as the vibrant colors of orange, yellow, red, and brown.  Below is an image of a leaf and the stages of transformation it experiences.

Photosynthesis

Leaf Wreath

 

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Additional Resources:

http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/common-plants-and-animals/trees-shrubs-and-vines/common-fall-leaves 

http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/factsheets.cfm

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