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Exactly Why the Leaves Turn

Exactly Why the Leaves Turn
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Jud’s New England Journal
For October 2010

Welcome to the October 2010 edition of
“Jud’s New England Journal,” the rather curious monthly musings of Judson Hale,
editor-in-chief of Yankee Magazine,
published since 1935 in Dublin, New Hampshire.

Exactly Why the Leaves Turn

We don’t fully understand this explanation. But maybe you will …

A few years back I asked my friend — and Yankee contributor — George Taloumis to explain to me exactly why our fall leaves turn such vivid and beautiful colors. Here’s what he said …

“During the summer, leaves are busy manufacturing food. This food — starches, sugars, and proteins — is distributed by chlorophyll, the green coloring matter in leaves. When the chlorophyll captures the sun’s rays, it transforms the carbon dioxide in the air and the water in the soil into food. This, then, is distributed throughout the plant.”

“In the autumn, as a result of cooler weather and shorter days, the food-manufacturing process slows down. This results in a chemical breakdown of the chlorophyll, so that the starches and other food go into the branches, limbs, and trunks of the trees to be stored away for spring use. When the green chlorophyll breaks down in the process, it becomes colorless, thus permitting the colors already present in the leaves to reveal themselves.”

Okay, I get it (sort of).

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Exactly Why the Leaves Turn

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