What Causes the Colors of Autumn Leaves?
Leaves contain a variety of colors – green, orange, yellow, and brown. But during the spring and summer, there is much more green than any other color. The green comes from the chlorophyll that leaves use in making food. In autumn, when the days become shorter, the chlorophyll breaks down and disappears.
Soon the leaf is no longer green. Once the green is gone, the yellows, oranges and browns start to show through. The sugars remaining inside the drying leaves produce the red and purple colors. The result is the beautiful colors of autumn.
Many people mistakenly believe that weather makes leaves change color. While this is not true, weather can affect how vibrantly the colors appear. If the weather is too hot or cold, the leaves will not be as bright as they begin to change. The best weather for brilliant autumn foliage is sunny, warm days and cool nights.
Water also plays an important role in autumn leaf colors. If a tree doesn’t receive enough water, the leaves will die faster and fall to the ground. If there is too much rain, the tree won’t receive enough sunlight, and the leaves will not be brightly colored.