Science research: Why do leaves change color?

Apart from plenty of great new books I got, I did spend a lot of time this Thanksgiving break reading non-fiction articles for a school assignment I had to do. Interested in the results?

In Texas as well as in other areas of the world leaves change color in autumn. Here is why: In spring and summer trees have green leaves. This is because of a process called photosynthesis. What happens in that process is that carbon dioxide and sunlight get transformed into energy (glucose) and oxygen. To make this happen the tree also needs water. In that process the trees produce chlorophyll which is a pigment. Chlorophyll only reflects green all the other colors of the light it absorbs that means kind of eats up the other colors. When the days get shorter and colder the tree lacks light and it slowly stops making glucose. The chlorophyll in the leaves gets less and less so then you see all the other colors that you could not see before. The pigments that produce these colors are carotenoids (yellow, red, brown) and anthocyanins (red and purple).

In winter the leaves fall of the tree because they get very dry. Did you know that a chestnut tree loses about 55 pounds of leaves? When there is more sunlight and when the days get longer in spring the leaves grow again.

Sometimes leaves don’t change the color. It also depends on where you live how dull or bright the autumn colors look. There are areas in the world were the leaves don’t change color at all because weather, sunlight and climate stay almost the same all year long.


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