Thursday, 4 November 2010

Autumn Leaves

Posted by Rosie

The leaves around here are finally showing some good Autumnal colours, although with today's windy weather they may soon be blown away. But did you know that there are 2 factors that have an effect on Autumn leaf colour; the tree species and the Summer weather?

Some trees just give better colours than others e.g. the maples and cherries will always give stronger colours than ash or sweet chestnut. However, with all trees the intensity of the Autumn colour will be all the more after a hot, sunny Summer. Leaves contain three main pigments; chlorophyll, anthocyanins and carotenoids. Chlorophyll, the well known green pigment we learnt about in biology classes masks the other two for most of the year but as the tree absorbs the chlorophyll back into itself in the Autumn these other two pigments show through - anthocyanins producing the red colours and carotenoids, the yellows. All through the Summer these pigments were working hard as the leaf equivalent of sun-cream. So, after a long hot summer the leaves will have produced more of the sun protecting pigments and we will reap the benefits with some excellent Autumn colour.

Here ends the biology lesson ...... enjoy the Autumn
leaves :-)

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