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Why do leaves change colour in Autumn?

For many, Autumn is a much loved and cherished season.  It’s completely different from the other seasons in that the leaves turn into a gorgeous array of oranges, reds and yellows.  Lots of people just observe and admire the beauty whilst others sit and ponder over the reasons why the leaves change colour in Autumn.  In this blog we’re going to have a look at this particular topic and hopefully give you some extra facts to take to your next dinner party!

So then, why do leaves change colour in Autumn?

During Autumn, leaves will stop their food making process.  Due to changes in the length of daylight and also in temperature, it causes the trees to kind of shut-off.  The substance that gives leaves their green colour is known as ‘chlorophyll’.  During Autumn, the chlorophyll breaks down and the green colours disappears.  As this green colour leaves the leaves, a vibrant orange starts to appear.

Whilst the chlorophyll is being broken down, there are also a few more chemical changes that happen. With these other changes it brings about more colours.  Through the development of red anthocyanin pigments, you will notice other colour variations starting to appear.

What creates the different intensities of colours?

When leaves change colour in Autumn, the intensity of the actual colour change can depend on a few things.  Temperature, light and water supply all have an influence on the colour intensity of the leaves.  For example, low temperatures are great for bringing out that bright red in maples. If its too cold and you experience some morning frost, this tends to dampen the brightness of the reds.

What else happens?

Not only are the leaves being affected by a gorgeous colour change, but they also experience something else.  Where the leaf attaches itself to the stem, there will be a special layer of cells that develop and over a little bit of time, they will sever the support tissues of that leaf.  At this happens, just like our bodies, the tree will seal this cut and as the wind takes the leaf, what is left behind is a tiny leaf scar.

So there you have it. Hopefully you’ve been able to take away a few interesting facts here.  Seeing the leaves change colour in Autumn is a truly magical process.  And even though you know why leaves change colour in Autumn, it still doesn’t take away from the beauty and enchantment of the whole process.

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