Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons in the Finger Lakes. We all enjoy the colors of autumn leaves. Did you ever wonder how and why a fall leaf changes color? Why a maple leaf turns bright red? Where do the yellows and oranges come from?
Here is a quick review of what you may already know. Leaves are nature’s food factories. The plants use sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose. Oxygen is a gas in the air that we breathe. Glucose is a kind of sugar. Plants use glucose as food for energy and for growing. The way plants turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar is called photosynthesis–putting together with light. A chemical called chlorophyll helps make photosynthesis happen. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color.
But as the summer ends and autumn comes, the days get shorter and shorter and the trees begin to get ready for winter. The trees will rest, and begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the bright green fades away, then we begin to see the yellow and orange colors that have been in the leaves all along just covered up by the green chlorophyll.
The bright reds and purples we see in leaves are made mostly in the fall. In some trees, like maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops. Sunlight and the cool nights of autumn cause the leaves turn this glucose into a red color.
The brown color of trees like oaks is made from wastes left in the leaves.
It is the combination of all these things that make the beautiful colors we enjoy in the fall and the experience of being in the Finger Lakes. Plan a Finger Lakes Get Away now, pack your bags, your camera and come drive the Finger Lakes.
Another Great Finger Lakes Find!