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plants your garden

painted trees

For the less romantically inclined among us, who don’t get misty eyed over nature’s autumnal carnival of color but would like to know why the leaves turn, here is the full prose version of it.

Foliage comes with three pigments: green – the chlorophyll, yellow-orange – the carotenoids, and reddish-purple – the anthocyanins. Green and yellow are in the leaves all the time, while reddish-purple occurs mostly in the fall, in response to the higher amounts of sugar in the leaves and the winding down of chlorophyll production. The yellow pigment is masked by the chlorophyll throughout the summer, and is only revealed after plants no longer generate it in the advent of winter.

So, next time you admire a burning bush or a brilliant red maple, remember that you are looking at sugar, lots and lots of sugar.