Autumn Turning Trees – and Heads!

‘Twas in the Fall of 1981 – after returning from a three-year orchestral stint in South Florida (a state I remember temperature-wise as being blessed with three seasons: warm, warmer and hot) – that I first experienced the dazzling power of autumnal Nature in the Northeast.

At the time, I kept a spiral notebook on the green cover of which I had scrawled 1981-82, and the first entries cover the month of October 1981 in three segments:

A. Early turning trees
B. Early-to-middle turning trees
C. Late turning trees

And here they are in the order of their colors as I observed at the time:
A.  October 9 – 11
SUMAC                  red to purple
SHABLOW           reddish to bronze
WILLOWS            yellow – green (below)
ASHES                  yellow – green
LOCUST              ——–do——–
BLACK GUM      ——–do——–

B. October 16 – 18
maplejpgSUGAR MAPLE bronze, orange and red

[My favorite pix – alongside and its leaves below – as I simply adore maple syrup atop various goodies on the breakfast table or at Darjeeling teatime.]mapleleaves

SASSAFRASS    orange to scarlet
CHERRY             reddish
SOUR GUM       brilliant red (below)

Sour Gum TupeloBIRCH                yellow
HICKORY          yellow

C.  October (late)
OAKS                dark red to brown

WHITE ASH    yellow (alongside)White Ash

PEACH             yellow to bronze

Due to diminishing daylight hours and dropping night temperatures (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) chemical processes in the leaves slow down: these involve three pigments – chlorophyll, carotinids and anthocyanines.

Briefly, with less light, a tiny layer of new cells develops at the base of each leaf, cutting off its water supply, and decomposing chlorophyll (that gives leaves their green look.) As a result, carotinids become more pronounced coloring some trees orange and yellow.

Also, sugar produced by other leaves is converted into anthocyanine, which turns leaves bright red and purple.

So there you have it – chemistry lesson’s over!

Copyright © 2015 Azim Lewis Mayadas




7 thoughts on “Autumn Turning Trees – and Heads!

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