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.

Related Articles


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 December 20, 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 December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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