What if we told you that a leaf has been the color it’s changing into all along?
Trees receive nourishment from the sun through chlorophyll, a compound that is responsible for converting sunlight into food, and also responsible for a leaf’s green coloring. But chlorophyll isn’t a stable compound – it requires sunshine and warm temperatures to function. As the days get shorter, chlorophyll breaks down. The green fades to reveal other new pigments within the leaves – pigments that were actually present in leaf cells during the growing season! But during the spring and summer, the color of the chlorophyll keeps those colors under wraps.
When we have a dry late-summer and sunny fall days with cool nights, those "new" colors reveal themselves in spectacular fashion. We’ve seen a lot of rain this summer, so the experience of brilliant fall foliage may have to wait until next year in the Mid-Atlantic. But maybe we’re wrong – we’ll be keeping an eye on the local foliage this fall and hope you will be too.