Now, as omnipresent as the changing of the color of leaves in the autumn is, I’ll bet that many people don’t know how and why this transformation takes place. Sure, you might have the general idea (It is getting colder, the leaves will freeze, etc..) but I’ll bet that you don’t know the whole story. The annual changing of the colors is something that just comes naturally to those of us who live far enough north to enjoy the yearly onset of deep reds and bright bursts of orange in the trees. We often take for granted the crispy leaves and that slight smell of decay that comes with the fall. I don’t want to give you the impression that you should know this information, because personally I didn’t know the answer to the question to “Why do leaves change color and fall off” until I had taken a botany course in college. I hadn’t really thought about the processes, systems, reasons, and mechanisms of the fall colors before, learning about it in class was a bit of a “Duh!” moment for me. To have something so huge and eye catching to a biologist as myself, and not know the answers was unfortunate. I hope that you, my readers, would concur. Fortunately for you, I did eventually learn the important details about this annual arboreal event. I am glad to share it with you. (I would like to apologize for the title of this article as well… I couldn’t help myself)
Lets start right at the beginning.