You may have noticed the beautiful fall foliage along the river. Autumn is a great time to observe the leaves changing from green to a beautiful oranges, reds, and yellows. But have you ever wondered why the leaves change color?
The process has to do with the changing of pigments in the leaves. Chrlorophyll which is normally present in the leaves produces a green pigment that acts as the dominant color throughout the season. During autumn, the chlorophyll, which allows leaves to manufacture sunlight into food, stops being produced and therefore allows the the other colored pigments, such as carotenoids to show through. Cartenoids produce yellow, orange, and brown colors (also found in foods like corn, carrots, and bananas). Anthocyanins produce shades of red in the leaves and are produced only in the autumn, when bright sunlight and excess plant sugars are available inside the leaf cells (anthocyanins produce the red colors in cranberries, red apples, cherries, and strawberries). Now when you look at the leaves you can think about all the cool processes that are happening to create this beautiful fall display. But don't trust me- check it out for yourself!
If you're looking for more beautiful fall foliage, and perhaps a day trip or hike, then call the Forest Service's Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-354-4595 for the most up to date details of the fall color display.