Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

There's a long answer, and a short answer. I can give you both.

The short answer is easy.

Leaves change color because of the decaying or breaking down of chlorophyll, making the green disappear so we can see more of the yellow and orange. Chemical changes also take place creating a red pigment.

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Leaves are really green in the summer!

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Bye, bye, chlorophyll!

As Autumn arrives, the leaves change color. The time of year they start changing depends on where you live… any time from September to November.

Now it's time for the longer answer.

As Autumn/Fall arrives, the trees begin preparing for winter. The days get shorter, meaning there's not going to be enough light and water for photosynthesis soon. During the winter, the trees sort of “hibernate” like bears do. They live off of their food storage from summer. As they begin to hibernate (I'm sure there's an official word here that I'm missing), the green chlorophyll starts to disappear from the tree's leaves. This makes way for the yellows and oranges to shine through. These colors have been there all along, we just couldn't see them because the leaves were so green.

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

But leaves aren't just yellow and orange, right?

There are bright red leaves, purple leaves, and everything in between!

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

In the Fall, in some trees, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis ends.

According to this science site, sunlight and cool nights cause the leaves to turn the glucose into a red color.

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Some leaves are brown, too! This color is made from waste left in the leaves.

Long story short, these trees don't like winter any more than I do and they go into a deep sleep so they don't have to put up with it! We don't get to see changing leaves here in the desert, but we might take a trip up to northern Arizona when Fall comes because we really miss the beautiful color-changing leaves we had in the Midwest!

Books About Why Leaves Change color

Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Tell Me Why, Tell Me How)
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FREE Leaves Unit Study Resources