(WJHL) – Fall is in full swing and peak fall color will come in the next few weeks across the Tri-Cities region.
What causes leaves to transform from green into a beautiful array of colors?
Leaves have a green pigment inside of them called chlorophyll that helps trap sunlight, make food for the plants and transport water into the leaves during the growing season. This is what gives the leaves their healthy green color in the spring and summer months.
As the angle of the sun begins to change and lower, the production of chlorophyll begins to slow.
In the summer and spring, the sun is at a high angle which gives stronger and more direct sunlight and makes the plants healthy and green. When the Sun angle starts to lower in the fall season, plants receive more indirect sunlight which is less intense than the amount of Sun that we get in the summer. As the amount of sunlight decreases, the chlorophyll stops transporting water and nutrients to the leaves.
When this happens, the color of the leaves changes due to the sugars trapped in the leaf, and new color pigments are produced prior to the leaves falling off the trees. This gives us the beautiful fall colors that we see here in Appalachia.
Different species of trees produce different colors. We have a variety of tree species in our region which transforms into a beautiful spectrum of colors during the peak fall color season.