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Encyclopedia > Autumn leaf color
Maple leaves

Autumn leaf color is a phenomenon that affects the normally green leaves of many deciduous trees and shrubs by which they take on, during a few weeks in the autumn months, one or many colors that range from red to yellow. The phenomenon is commonly called fall colors or autumn colors, while the expression fall foliage usually connotes the viewing of a tree or forest whose leaves have undergone the change. In some areas in the United States (notably New England), "leaf peeping" tourism between the beginning of color changes and the onset of leaf fall, or scheduled in hope of coinciding with that period, is a major contribution to economic activity. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1600x1200, 377 KB) Photographer: tracy from north brookfield,Massachusetts, usa Title: Autumn leaves Taken on: 2004-10-31 14:44:46 Original source: Flickr. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1600x1200, 377 KB) Photographer: tracy from north brookfield,Massachusetts, usa Title: Autumn leaves Taken on: 2004-10-31 14:44:46 Original source: Flickr. ... Distribution Species See List of Acer species Trees or shrubs in the genus Acer are commonly called Maples. ... Deciduous means temporary or tending to fall off (deriving from the Latin word decidere, to fall off) and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally. ... The coniferous Coast Redwood, the tallest tree species on earth. ... A broom shrub in flower A shrub or bush is a horticultural rather than strictly botanical category of woody plant, distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and lower height, usually less than 6 m tall. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... This article is about the region in the United States of America. ... Leaf peeping is an autumn activity in areas where foliage changes colors. ... “Tourist” redirects here. ... Deciduous means temporary or tending to fall off (deriving from the Latin word decidere, to fall off) and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally. ...

Contents

Chlorophyll and the green color

A green leaf is green because of the presence of a group of pigments known as chlorophylls. When they are abundant in the leaf's cells, as they are during the growing season, the chlorophylls' green color dominates and masks out the colors of any other pigments that may be present in the leaf. Thus the leaves of summer are characteristically green. Look up foliage in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Natural Ultramarine pigment in powdered form. ... Chlorophyll gives leaves their green color Space-filling model of the chlorophyll molecule Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in most plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. ... Drawing of the structure of cork as it appeared under the microscope to Robert Hooke from Micrographia which is the origin of the word cell being used to describe the smallest unit of a living organism Cells in culture, stained for keratin (red) and DNA (green) The cell is the...

In this leaf, the veins are still green while the other tissue is turning red.

Chlorophyll has a vital function: that of capturing solar rays and utilizing the resulting energy in the manufacture of the plant's food — simple sugars which are produced from water and carbon dioxide. These sugars are the basis of the plant's nourishment — the sole source of the carbohydrates needed for growth and development. In their food-manufacturing process, the chlorophylls themselves break down and thus are being continually "used up." During the growing season, however, the plant replenishes the chlorophyll so that the supply remains high and the leaves stay green. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2048x1536, 1794 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Autumn leaf color Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (2048x1536, 1794 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Autumn leaf color Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used... Carbon dioxide is a chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom. ... Lactose is a disaccharide found in milk. ...


In late summer, the veins that carry fluids into and out of the leaf are gradually closed off as a layer of special cork cells forms at the base of each leaf. As this cork layer develops, water and mineral intake into the leaf is reduced, slowly at first, and then more rapidly. It is during this time that the chlorophyll begins to decrease. For other uses, see Summer (disambiguation). ... In the circulatory system, a vein is a blood vessel that carries blood toward the heart. ... Cork is a tissue found in some plants, which consists tightly packed dead cells. ... A mineral is a naturally occurring substance formed through geological processes that has a characteristic chemical composition, a highly ordered atomic structure and specific physical properties. ...


Often the veins will still be green after the tissues between them have almost completely changed color.


Pigments that contribute to other colors

Carotenoids

Cross section of a leaf showing color changes; click to enlarge.

As autumn approaches, certain influences both inside and outside the plant cause the chlorophylls to be replaced at a slower rate than they are being used up. During this period, with the total supply of chlorophylls gradually dwindling, the "masking" effect slowly fades away. Then other pigments that have been present (along with the chlorophylls) in the cells all during the leaf's life begin to show through. These are carotenoids and they provide colorations of yellow, brown, orange, and the many hues in between. Image File history File links Leaf_color_change. ... Image File history File links Leaf_color_change. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... The orange ring surrounding Grand Prismatic Spring is due to carotenoid molecules, produced by huge mats of algae and bacteria. ...


The carotenoids occur, along with the chlorophyll pigments, in tiny structures called plastids within the cells of leaves. Sometimes they are in such abundance in the leaf that they give a plant a yellow-green color, even during the summer. Usually, however, they become prominent for the first time in autumn, when the leaves begin to lose their chlorophyll. Plant cells with visible chloroplasts. ...


Carotenoids are common in many living things, giving characteristic color to carrots, corn, canaries, and daffodils, as well as egg yolks, rutabagas, buttercups, and bananas. This article is about the cultivated vegetable. ... This article is about the maize plant. ... Binomial name Serinus canaria (Linnaeus, 1758) The Canary (Serinus canaria) sometimes called the Island Canary, Wild Canary or Atlantic Canary, is a small bird in the finch family. ... Species ????? Daffodils are a group of large flowered members of the genus Narcissus. ... An egg yolk surrounded by the egg white An egg yolk is the part of an egg which serves as the food source for the developing embryo inside. ... Binomial name Brassica napobrassica Mill. ... This article is about the flower. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


Their brilliant yellows and oranges tint the leaves of such hardwood species as hickories, ash, maple, yellow poplar, aspen, birch, black cherry, sycamore, cottonwood, sassafras, and alder. Species See text Comparison of Carya nuts Ripe hickory nuts ready to fall, Andrews, SC Hickory is a tree of the genus Carya, including 17-19 species of deciduous trees with pinnately compound leaves and large nuts. ... Species Many, see text. ... Distribution Species See List of Acer species Trees or shrubs in the genus Acer are commonly called Maples. ... Species Liriodendron chinense (Hemsl. ... For other uses, see Aspen (disambiguation). ... Species Many species; see text and classification Birch is the name of any tree of the genus Betula, in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. ... Binomial name Prunus serotina Ehrh. ... Sycamore is a name applied at various times and places to three very different types of trees, but with somewhat similar leaf forms. ... Species Populus deltoides L. Populus fremontii [[]] Populus nigra L. This article is about the poplar species. ... This article is about the Sassafras tree. ... Species About 20-30 species, see text. ...


Anthocyanins

The reds, the purples, and their blended combinations that decorate autumn foliage come from another group of pigments in the cells called anthocyanins. These pigments are not present in the leaf throughout the growing season as are the carotenoids. They develop in late summer in the sap of the cells of the leaf, and this development is the result of complex interactions of many influences - both inside and outside the plant. Their formation depends on the breakdown of sugars in the presence of bright light as the level of phosphate in the leaf is reduced. Plants with abnormally high anthocyanin quantities are popular as ornamental plants - here, a selected purple-leaf cultivar of European Beech Anthocyanins (from Greek: (anthos) = flower + (kyanos) = blue) are water-soluble vacuolar flavonoid pigments that appear red to blue, according to pH. They are synthesized exclusively by organisms of the plant... The abbreviation, acronym, or initialism SAP has several different meanings: SAP AG, a German software company, or its various products such as SAP R/3 or SAP Business Information Warehouse second audio program (television) Session Announcement Protocol Soritong audio player Simple As Possible Computer Architecture Structural Adjustment Program of the... A phosphate, in inorganic chemistry, is a salt of phosphoric acid. ...


During the summer growing season, phosphate is at a high level. It has a vital role in the breakdown of the sugars manufactured by chlorophyll. But in the fall, phosphate, along with the other chemicals and nutrients, moves out of the leaf into the stem of the plant. When this happens, the sugar-breakdown process changes, leading to the production of anthocyanin pigments. The brighter the light during this period, the greater the production of anthocyanins and the more brilliant the resulting color display. When the days of autumn are bright and cool, and the nights are chilly but not freezing, the brightest colorations usually develop. A phosphate, in inorganic chemistry, is a salt of phosphoric acid. ... This article is about sugar as food and as an important and widely-traded commodity. ... Stem showing internode and nodes plus leaf petiole and new stem rising from node. ...


Anthocyanins temporarily color the edges of some of the very young leaves as they unfold from the buds in early spring. They also give the familiar color to such common fruits as cranberries, red apples, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and plums. Flower buds have not yet bloomed into a full-size flower. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... “Cranberries” redirects here. ... The Red Delicious is a cultivar of apple. ... For other uses, see Blueberry (disambiguation). ... “Cherry tree” redirects here. ... Species 20+ species; see text The strawberry (Fragaria) is a genus of plants in the family Rosaceae and the fruit of these plants. ... Plum is also a nickname for British humorist P. G. Wodehouse. ...


In our autumn forests, they show up vividly in the maples, oaks, sourwood, sweetgum, dogwood, tupelo, black gum and persimmon. These same pigments often combine with the carotenoids' colors to create the deeper orange, fiery reds, and bronzes typical of many hardwood species. Distribution Species See List of Acer species Trees or shrubs in the genus Acer are commonly called Maples. ... Species See List of Quercus species The term oak can be used as part of the common name of any of several hundred species of trees and shrubs in the genus Quercus (from Latin oak tree), and some related genera, notably Cyclobalanopsis and Lithocarpus. ... Binomial name Oxydendrum arboreum (L.) DC. Sourwood or Sorrel Tree is a small tree or large shrub, native to eastern North America. ... Species Liquidambar formosana Liquidambar orientalis Liquidambar styraciflua The sweetgums Liquidambar are a genus in the witch-hazel family Hamamelidaceae, with three species of large deciduous trees, 25-40m tall, with palmately lobed leaves: Liquidambar formosana - Chinese Sweetgum (central & southern China, Taiwan). ... Subgenera Cornus Benthamidia Swida The Dogwoods comprise a group of 30-50 species of deciduous woody plants (shrubs and trees) in the family Cornaceae, divided into one to nine genera or subgenera (depending on botanical interpretation). ... For the city, see Tupelo, Mississippi. ... Binomial name Nyssa sylvatica Marsh. ... Species See text A Persimmon is any of a number of species of trees of the genus Diospyros, and the edible fruit borne by them. ...


Function of autumn colors

The conventional reasoning behind leaf fall is that leaves may be unable to survive winter, or that they may run short of water and minerals, although plants leaves can and do survive to winter, and even aquatic plant shed leaves. Evergreens are misnamed, as they also shed their leaves albeit not in autumn. Brian J. Ford has proposed that the shedding of the leaves is a primary means of plant excretion.[1] There have been suggestions that leaf shedding may be a response that provides protection against diseases and certain kinds of pests such as leaf miners and gall forming insects.[2] ‹ The template below (Expand) is being considered for deletion. ... Brian J. Ford (born 1939 in Corsham, Wiltshire) is an English independent scientist, prolific author and popular interpreter of scientific issues for the general populace, whose scientific papers and numerous books have been published internationally. ... The kidneys are important excretory organs in vertebrates. ... Leaf miners are insect larvae that live within leaf tissue. ... Kalanchoë infected with crown-gall using Agrobacterium tumefaciens. ...



The function of color change, however, is a puzzle. The leaves of many deciduous trees change their color in autumn, before leaf fall. Autumn colors (especially red) are not just due to the decomposition of the chlorophyll; in fact anthocyanins (red-purple) are actively produced in autumn. What use is the production of pigments in leaves that are about to fall? There are two main hypotheses: photoprotection and coevolution.


Photoprotection

According to the photoprotection theory, anthocyanins protects the leaf against the harmful effects of light at low temperatures[3][4]. It is true that the leaves are about to fall and therefore it is not of extreme importance for the tree to protect them. Photo-oxidation and photo-inhibition, however, especially at low temperatures, make the process of reabsorbing nutrients less efficient. By shielding the leaf with anthocyanins, according to the photoprotection theory, the tree manages to reabsorb nutirents (especially nitrogen) more efficiently.


Coevolution

According to the coevolution theory [5] instead, the colors are warning signals towards insects that use the trees as a host for the winter, for example aphids. If the colors are linked to the amount of chemical defenses against insects, then the insects will avoid red leaves and increase their fitness; at the same time trees with red leaves will have an advantage because they reduce their parasite load. The coevolution theory of autumn colors was born as a branch of evolutionary signalling theory. It is a general feature of biological signals that, when a signal is costly to produce, it is usually honest - that is it reveals the true quality of the signaller, because it does not pay for a low quality individual to cheat. Autumn colors might be a signal if they are costly to produce, or they could be an index, which is maintained because it is impossible to fake (because the autumn pigments are produced by the same biochemical pathway that produces the chemical defenses against the insects). Although it is not certain that aphids have red receptors, there is some evidence that they preferentially avoid trees with red leaves. This is what the coevolution theory predicts at the intraspecific level (more insects on dull leaves). It is also known that tree species with bright leaves have more specialist aphid pests than do trees lacking bright leaves[6], which is the iterspecific prediction of the theory (autumn colors are useful only in those species coevolving with insect pests in autumn). Within evolutionary biology, signalling theory refers to the scientific theory around how organisms signal their condition to others. ...


The change of leaf colors prior to fall have also been suggested as adaptations that may help undermine the camouflage of herbivores.[7]

See also: Deciduous and Plant defense against herbivory

Deciduous means temporary or tending to fall off (deriving from the Latin word decidere, to fall off) and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally. ... Plants have evolved an enormous array of mechanical and chemical defenses against the animals that eat them. ...

Tourism

Autumn coloration at Karasawa of the Hodaka Mountains in Japan.
October foliage along the Mahoning River in Mahoning and Portage Counties, Ohio, USA
See also: Leaf peeping

Although some autumn coloration occurs wherever deciduous trees are found, the most brightly colored autumn foliage is found in three regions of the world: most of Canada; most of the United States; and Eastern Asia, including China, Korea, and Japan.[8][9] Image File history File links Karasawa2000. ... Image File history File links Karasawa2000. ... Shirouma peaks (Hida Mountains) Tateyama peaks (Hida Mountains) Lake Hakuba The Kiso Mountains between Nagoya and Naoetsu The Japanese Alps is a mountain range in Japan that bisects the main island of Honshu. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 534 pixelsFull resolution (1500 × 1001 pixel, file size: 640 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 534 pixelsFull resolution (1500 × 1001 pixel, file size: 640 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Leaf peeping is an autumn activity in areas where foliage changes colors. ... Deciduous means temporary or tending to fall off (deriving from the Latin word decidere, to fall off) and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally. ... “Foliage” redirects here. ... East Asia is a subregion of Asia. ... This article is about the Korean peninsula and civilization. ...


Eastern Canada and the New England region of the United States are famous around the world[8] for the brilliance of their "fall foliage," and a seasonal tourist industry has grown up around the few weeks in autumn when the leaves are at their peak. Some television and web-based weather forecasts even report on the status of the fall foliage throughout the season as a service to tourists. Fall foliage tourists are often referred to as "leaf peepers". Fall foliage tours to the Rocky Mountain states, the northwestern United States and far western Canada are becoming more popular as well. The Japanese momijigari tradition is similar, though more closely related to hanami.[10] This article is about the region in the United States of America. ... A couple walking amid the momiji at Ryōan-ji in Kyoto Momijigari ), from the Japanese momiji ), red leaves or maple tree and kari ), hunting, is the Japanese tradition of going to visit scenic areas where leaves have turned red in the autumn. ... Hanami parties along the Kamo River. ...


References

This article incorporates text from the USDA Forest Service, a public domain work of the United States Government. The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ... A work of the United States government, as defined by United States copyright law, is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the U.S. government as part of that persons official duties. ...

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Alan G. Williams, Thomas G. Whitham (1986) Premature Leaf Abscission: An Induced Plant Defense Against Gall Aphids. Ecology. 67(6):1619-1627
  3. ^ Lee and Gould (2002a) Why leaves turn red. American Scientist 90:524-531
  4. ^ Lee and Gould (2002b) Anthocyanins in leaves and other vegetative organs: an introduction. Advances in Botanical Research (2002) 37:1-16
  5. ^ Archetti (2000) The origin of autumn colours by coevolution. PDF J. Theor. Biol. 205: 625-630
  6. ^ Hamilton and Brown (2001) Autumn tree colours as a handicap signal. PDF Proc. R. Soc. B 268:1489-1493
  7. ^ Lev-Yadun, S. , Amots Dafni, Moshe A. Flaishman, Moshe Inbar, Ido Izhaki, Gadi Katzir, and Gidi Ne’eman (2004) Plant coloration undermines herbivorous insect camouflage. PDF BioEssays 26:1126–1130
  8. ^ a b Pest Alert (August 30, 1998). Retrieved on 2006-11-28.
  9. ^ Altman. "Fall foliage sets Japan ablaze", Taipei Times, November 8, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-11-28. 
  10. ^ http://www.jpn-miyabi.com/Vol.7/momijigari-e.html

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