Fall Colors

Fall Colors

By Sierra Chmela

Perhaps the most anticipated event of fall is the spectacular transformation of treetops from bright green to vivid hues of red, orange, and yellow. This mesmerizing display of color is the result of fall’s shorter days. As trees receive less and less sunlight they stop producing chlorophyll, the pigment responsible for that leafy green color. 

Chlorophyll plays a key role in photosynthesis, but shorter days alert trees to the impending winter when they won’t need to produce food. As chlorophyll breaks down, the other pigments within each leaf become visible. Yellow pigments are called xanthophylls, oranges are carotenoids, and reds are anthocyanins. These pigments, or a combination of them paired with leftover chlorophyll, produce the wide range of leaf colors, including brown, that we’ll see this season.  

Changes in weather, such as an early frost, can cause leaves to drop before they reach their peak color, so be sure to get out and appreciate this beautiful spectacle before it’s too late! 

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