Photo provided by Vivian Powers Photography
Where to See Northern California’s Best Fall Colors!
Why leaves change color…….
Every year at this time we revel in the beauty of the trees, knowing well that it is only a fleeting pleasure. Before long the leaves will flutter away from their summer home and become a part of the rich carpet that covers the forest floor. There are legends about why the leaves change but we now know that change in coloring is the result of chemical processes which take place in trees as the season changes from summer to winter.
The degree of color may vary from tree to tree. For example, leaves directly exposed to the sun my turn red while those on the shady side of the same tree or on other trees in the shade may be yellow. The food-making process takes place in the leaf in numerous cells containing the pigment chlorophyll, which gives the leaf its green color. The chlorophyll absorbs energy from sunlight and uses it in transforming carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates, such as sugars and starch.
When there is warm, cloudy, rainy weather in the fall, the leaves may have less red coloration. The smaller amount of sugar made in the reduced sunlight moves out of the leaves during the warm nights. Thus no excess sugar remains in the leaves to form the pigments.
As the fall colors appear other change are taking place. At the base of the leafstalk where it is attached to the twig, a special layer of cells develops and gradually severs the tissue that supports the leaf. At the same time Nature heals the break, so that after the leaf is finally blown off by the wind or has fallen from its own weight, the place were it grew on the twig is marked by a leaf scar.
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