July 15, 2024

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The Colors of Autumn

One of the most beautiful times of the year by far my favorite and also one of the least understood is Autumn. There’s no other season that comes close to matching it’s sheer beauty. Reds, yellows, oranges, browns, truly the colors of an artists palette. Still many people don’t realize that all those colors have been there all along, from the first budding of the leaves in the Springtime to the long hot days of Summer. Without sounding to scientific I’ll try to fill you in on why we only see green leaves and not the reds and yellows of Fall.
If you can think all the way back to your high school biology class day you may remember the word Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the green pigment produced by the leaf through the process of Photosynthesis. Through photosynthesis trees produce food (sugars) and wastes, take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. While trees are in their growing cycle for the spring and summer months there is so much green Chlorophyll in each leaf that it dominates the other colors that are present. As Fall arrives trees begin to go into a hibernation of sorts. They stop producing chlorophyll and begin to draw all of the food out of the leaves to store it in the root system to survive the winter. As photosynthesis stops we begin to see some of the other colors(sugars and wastes) that are left in the leaf. The brown colors you see are the wastes the tree didn’t need. The colder temperatures and the length of the days turn the sugars left in the leaves the reds and purple colors we see. The yellows are carotenoids, which is another substance in the leaves that aids the chlorophyll in photosynthesis. That’s the pretty condensed version of it all but it should at least give you a basic understanding of where the colors come from and what the colors represent.

Enjoy the Outdoors!!


  1. Great photo, Jeff! And thanks for the explanation on leaf color! I didn’t know some of that.

  2. Jeff: Great outdoor image…the reflections in the water and the water grass…really neat. I may even see a beaver dam over on left side of image…am I right?

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