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Why Do the Colors Of The Leaves Change During the Fall?

May 18

It's the most wonderful time of the year, according to some. Ending summer with a burst of vivid color as trees prepare for their lengthy winter slumber. Every year, the Great Smoky Mountains get tens of thousands of tourists expecting to witness nature's stunning revival firsthand.

Applied Mechanics

Photosynthesis is the first step. Chlorophyll is constantly being produced by foliage during the spring, summer, and early fall seasons. A plant's capacity to convert sunlight into glucose, which in turn feeds its trees, is dependent on the presence of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll cells, numbering in the billions, cover the leaves, giving them their characteristic shade of green.

Assorted Colors Changing

However, chlorophyll is not the sole factor influencing how colors change in autumnal leaves. Carotenoids and anthocyanins, which are also found in various leaves and trees, are two further classes of chemicals. Chlorophyll synthesis declines as the days become shorter in the fall, revealing the leaf's 'true' coloration.

What Is The Reason For The Fall Of The Leaves?

Nature's beauty may be found in its profound 'intelligent' qualities. In order to survive the cold temperatures of winter, perennials such as trees must defend themselves. During the winter, trees would be damaged and may be killed if they did not lose their leaves because the soft vegetation would freeze.

To protect their limbs and trunk from the freezing temperatures of winter, trees produce a layer of new cells at the base of their leaf stems to block the veins that supply water and nutrients to and from the leaves. At this point, water and nutrients are no longer flowing back and forth from the leaf, allowing it to wither and weaken at the stem before finally dropping to its last resting place.

What Happens To The Leaves That Have Fallen To The Ground?

At the same time as a great recycler, the Earth is also quite efficient. The Earth doesn't waste much, whether it's through the water cycle or the gradual decomposition of plants and trees back into rich soil.

Dew and rainfall are absorbed by the forest floor's thick humus, which is formed as leaves fall to the ground. This nutrient-rich "sponge" functions as a constant source of nutrients and water for trees and plants, promoting life and plant health in the following spring season.

It's easy to deduce that while the leaves shelter the trees in the winter, the heavy coating of dead leaves in the warm spring and summer months is probably not as beneficial to the plants. In this way, trees are able to sustain themselves year after year through their natural cycle.