Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Do Leaves Change Color In The Fall?

Date:
October 16, 2007
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Many of the colors we see in fall are always present, but normally they're hidden from view. The leaves of trees and other plants contain three main pigments: carotene, anthocyanin, and the photosynthetic pigment, chlorophyll, which captures the sun's energy to make food for plants. As the most abundant pigment, chlorophyll is what gives leaves their green hue in spring and summer.

When chlorophyll disintegrates rapidly, carotene shines through as the yellow in maple, aspen and birch leaves.
Credit: iStockphoto

Many of the colors we see in fall are always present, but normally they’re hidden from view, says UW-Madison Arboretum native plant gardener Susan Carpenter.

The leaves of trees and other plants contain three main pigments: carotene, anthocyanin, and the photosynthetic pigment, chlorophyll, which captures the sun’s energy to make food for plants. As the most abundant pigment, chlorophyll is what gives leaves their green hue in spring and summer.

Another chemical in leaves, auxin, controls a special band of cells at the base of each leaf stem, called the abscission layer. During the growing season, auxin prevents this layer from fully developing and blocking the tiny, internal tubes that connect each leaf to the rest of the tree’s circulatory system.

In fall, however, cooler and shorter days trigger an end to auxin production, allowing the abscission layer to grow and cut off the circulation of water, nutrients and sugar to the leaves. When this happens, chlorophyll disintegrates rapidly, letting carotene shine through as the yellow in maple, aspen and birch leaves. Anthocyanin, meanwhile, provides the oranges and reds of maples, sumacs and oaks. When there’s less sun, anthocyanin isn’t as chemically active and leaves are more orange or yellow than red.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Why Do Leaves Change Color In The Fall?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071012104737.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2007, October 16). Why Do Leaves Change Color In The Fall?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071012104737.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Why Do Leaves Change Color In The Fall?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071012104737.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins