Why do leaves change color in the fall?
Scientists have researched the fall leaf changes for many years to understand the processes that are happening. Details are not agreed upon, but they are sure that three factors influence the pigments that the leaves change to. Those are leaf pigment, length of night, and weather.
Length of night seems to be a very important factor. Some have suggested that changes in temperature, rainfall, food supply and other environment circumstances play varying roles in the colors of autumn, but these are not nearly as crucial as the length of night. Biochemical processes begin in the leaf when nighttime is extended and the season begins to change.
So, where do the colors come from?
The colors of the changing leaves are affected by 3 factors within the plant: Chlorophyll, Catotenoids and Anthocyanin. Everyone knows from elementary school, that Chlorophyll gives leaves their basic green color and is necessary for the plant to use sunlight to make their own sugars/food. Trees store up these sugars to get ready for their winter dormancy period. Cartenoids are what produce yellow, orange and brown colors in flowers and veggies such as corn, carrots, and sunflowers. Anthocyanins give a red rich color to fruits such as cranberries, red apples, concord grapes, etc. They are water soluble and can be seen in the water liquid of a leaf cell. Anthocyanins are produced in the fall, in response to the excess build-up of sugars within the leaf. The timing and color of the leaf’s color change also varies by species.
Want to know more about the trees and the colors that their leaves change to during Autumn? The Virginia Department of Forestry released a quick chart that helps you understand the leaf color and various trees. Here’s a quick list:
- Ash Trees turn a yellow or maroon color
- Beech Trees turn a yellow to orange color
- Dogwood trees turn from scarlet to purple
- Hickory Trees become a golden bronze
- Oak changes to red, brown or a russet color
- Poplar changes to golden yellow
Ready to escape this fall? Cabin Creekwood features 9 scenic Cabin Rentals in Virginia that are available for fall vacations to the Shenandoah Valley. We offer fall specials for getaways and cozy accommodations with beautiful fall scenery. We are minutes from Sherando Lake recreation area, and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.