What Makes Plant Leaves Green?
The green we see in leaves comes from a green substance called “chlorophyll,” which the plant uses in making food. Chlorophyll is found in the chloroplasts of green plants. Each leaf is like a tiny food factory.
To make the food, the leaf needs sunlight. It needs carbon dioxide that comes from the air, through tiny openings in the leaf. And it needs water and minerals from the soil, which the plant sucks up through its roots.
When the sun shines on the leaf, the chlorophyll helps the water, the minerals and the carbon dioxide mix to make just the right kind of food that the plant uses to grow.
This process is known as photosynthesis and is the basis for sustaining the life processes of all plants. There are other colors found in a plant that are present but cannot be seen because chlorophyll is such a strong absorbent of light.
When the chlorophyll molecule begins to weaken in the autumn due to the plant’s survival techniques, these other colors can be seen. Molecules such as carotene and quercetin produce these fall colors of red, orange, yellow and brown. This is the changing of the leaves!