Why do leaves change their color in the fall?

Youngstown Weather

Fall foliage is one of the most beautiful times of the year here in the Valley, but why do the leaves change color every fall?

Every year during the fall season, we notice that the trees start to change color before they fall off. This colorful transition period is called foliage and makes for picturesque backgrounds and scenery.

The foliage can contain leaves of various shades like red, orange or yellow. The reason why the leaves change during this season is due to one thing: sunlight.

During the summer, there is an abundant amount of sunlight, so leaves are filled with chlorophyll, giving its green color. Our daylight hours are shorter during the fall season, and the lack of sunlight means less chlorophyll for the leaf.

As a leaf continues to lose more and more chlorophyll as the amount of sunlight gets limited, this allows for the leaf’s other compounds (or chemicals) to come forward and control the pigment of the leaf. Each leaf has different compounds that give its red, orange or yellow pigment.

Red leaves have an anthocyanin compound. Orange leaves have a carotenoid compound. Yellow leaves have a xanthophyll compound.

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