There are many signs that fall has arrived; the start of school, colder-shorter days, and the first frost on car windshields. These signs are dreaded by students and adults alike, as they symbolize the coming of winter.
But there’s one tell tale sign fall is here that never fails to amaze and delight. This phenomenon is called autumn leaf color, and takes place when the “normally green leaves of deciduous trees and shrubs” turn a variety of different colors from red to yellow during the autumn season.
A lot of people think the changing of leaf colors is called fall foliage. However, this term refers to the viewing of the autumn leaf colors.
There are a few regions of the world that are home to the most brightly colored autumn leaves: most of the Southern Mainland of Canada, most of the Eastern part of the United States, Scandinavia, Northern and Western Europe, the Caucasus region near the Black Sea, Russia and Eastern Asia (including Eastern China, Korea and Japan).
The most famous area for viewing autumn leaves is Eastern Canada and New England. In these areas the best time to view the leaves is mid-October to early November.
The Fundy Coastal Drive in New Brunswick is an especially brilliant spot. The drive follows the Bay of Fundy which is home to some of the highest tides in the world. The leaves change from “vivacious reds to deep pumpkin orange.” The tree varieties and colors found on the Fundy Coastal Drive are similar to New England, yet the New Brunswick area is far less crowded with tourists.
Wherever they are viewed, one thing is for certain – taking time to enjoy fall foliage will definitely increase your enjoyment of the season.
Quick Facts about Autumn Leaf Colors:
– A green leaf is green because of the presence of a pigment known as chlorophyll.
– In autumn, chlorophyll is replaced at a slower rate than it is being used. Therefore, the supply of chlorophyll is decreasing.
– When the leaves change color, the other pigments (which have always been present) begin to show through. These are called carotenoids and give the leaves yellow, brown and orange colors.
– Carotenoids are common in many things, such as carrots, corn, canaries, daffodils, egg yolks and bananas.
– The hardwood species that change leaf colors are hickory, ash, maple, yellow poplar, aspen, birch, black cherry, sycamore, cotton wood, sassafras and alder.
– The red and purple colors come from another pigment called anthocyanins. These are not present in the leaf all along, but instead become actually produced toward the end of summer.
– These pigments are common in fruits such as cranberries, red apples, blue berries, cherries, strawberries and plums.
– They are common in maple trees, oaks, sourwood, sweet gums, dogwoods and cherry trees.
– When the two pigments, anthocyanins and carotenoids, are combined they create colors like deep orange, fiery red and bronze.