What color are a tree’s leaves? Your instant response was probably “green!” And, you are correct… at least for part of the year! During the late spring and summer months, a tree’s leaves are green. This is due to a pigment within the leaves called “Chlorophyll.” chlorophyll helps leaves convert the sun’s heat, water and carbon dioxide into energy through a process called “photosynthesis.” Without chlorophyll, plants would not be able to produce food for themselves (or for us!).
But, as the days get shorter in the fall, the leaves of deciduous trees turn from green to yellow, orange, red, and brown. This happens when the chlorophyll (green) pigment in the leaves fades and other pigments become more prominent.
Yellows, oranges, and brown colors in leaves are produced by a pigment called Carotenoids. In addition to the fall leaves having carotenoids, some fruits and vegetables are also colored with this pigment – carrots, corn, and bananas to name a few.
Red colors in leaves are produced by a pigment called Anthocyanins. Cranberries, strawberries, and cherries are also colored with this pigment.
Regardless of the pigment in leaves, take time to enjoy the fall colors. Or, try this fun activity with your family.
Gather some paper and glue. Head outside to collect 10-20 leaves of varying shapes, colors, and types. Use the leaves to create a picture of an animal. Long grasses can be hair, a stem can be a tail, or a big leaf can be the animal’s body.