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The Colors of Autmn

Sep 06, 2019 07:59PM ● By Ed Helmick

You may have noticed that the days are getting shorter and the and the nights are cooler. We are entering the Fall or Autumn season and officially that occurs on Sept. 22.

That is the date in the earth’s rotation around the sun when the length of day and night are approximately equal all over the planet. In the northern hemisphere the days become shorter until Winter Solstice on Dec. 21.

The tilt on the earth’s axis is a very clever design by our creator to spread the warmth of the sun.  It is generally understood that the fall colors we see are a result of shorter days and cooler temperatures. The changing of the leaves may start earlier this year because of the drought we have had since the Spring rains stopped.   

The colors we see in the transition from the warm growing season to the dormant plant life of winter are a wonderful story of the creator’s design when you think about it. Amazing chemistry takes place in the leaves of trees during the warm growing season.

The green chlorophyll in the leaves absorbs sunlight energy and transforms carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates for the tree’s growth. With the reduced daylight and temperatures of the fall season, the leaves stop their food-making process, and the chlorophyll breaks down, which results in the green color fading away. This allows the red, yellow and orange colors to become visible and produce the colors of fall season.

Now there is more to this amazing story. As the leaves are changing color, another change is taking place as a layer of cells develops where the stem of the leaf is attached to the tree. This growth of a cork-like material eventually severs the leaf from the tree and seals the wound where the leaf stem was attached. This occurs so tree sap does not leak out. The leaf falls off or blows off the tree.

This is tree survival; the tree cannot afford to support the leaf system during the winter months. When you think about the story of the fall colors it is an incredible adaptation to the coming season. (Helmick is a Serve Daily contributor.)