Science explains why leaves change colors
As the cold air takes hold of the northeast Ohio weather, the coats and gloves come out, and autumn rolls in, the question may be asked why leaves change colors.
According to Randy Carmel, Science Dept. member, “deciduous shrubs and trees lose their leaves during times of environmental stress as the chlorophyll green color that is dominant degrades slowly. Then the other pigments that have been present with the chlorophylls begin to show through as the colors of autumn.”
Carmel attributes this change in color to the need of trees and shrubs to go dormant for the winter seasons, which leads to the breakdown of chlorophyll.
Matthew Knight, Science Dept. member, states leaves begin to change color in late September all the way through to October.
Carmel explains the red color comes from the anthocyanin pigments and xanthophylls produce yellow carotenoids, which cause the orange colors to become apparent in the leaves.
According to “Why Do Leaves Change Color in Fall?” by Dan Shapley of Good Housekeeping, high heat and insufficient rain can cause leaves to have a lack of vibrancy or make them drop off the trees early.
Next time autumn rolls in, be sure to look for the trees that display the red and yellow and think of the science behind it.