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Chlorophyll Breaking Down

It’s as if a magic brush painted the northern New England landscape with every conceivable shade of vibrant red, orange and yellow this past week.  The major player in this phenomenon is chlorophyll, the pigment that gives leaves their green coloration during spring and summer. Chlorophyll is able to absorb from sunlight the energy that is used in transforming carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates, such as sugars and starch, inside cell-like structures called chloroplasts, a process referred to as photosynthesis. But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. Chlorophyll breaks down and the green color of leaves disappears, revealing colors that have been masked by the chlorophyll all summer (as well as reds manufactured in the fall).  Imagine a world without chlorophyll, where the bright golds, purples, yellows, oranges and reds of autumn leaves would be the natural colors seen in spring, summer and fall.

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9 responses

  1. SusanCapparelle

    Wanted to donate in honor of my mother as this was her favorite time of year. But I can’t see the donate button Mary.

    October 16, 2019 at 7:28 am

    • Thank you so much, Susan. You need to actually go to my blog to see the button. (I’m assuming you’re looking at an emailed post?). Your thoughtfulness is much appreciated.

      October 22, 2019 at 10:14 am

  2. Alice

    That colorful a world is difficult to imagine, and not healthy…would trees as we know them even exist? Many brilliant Black Tupelos and Sassafras in our yard, a gorgeous young American Spice bush & Blueberry bushes are starting.

    October 16, 2019 at 8:30 am

  3. john

    Yes, as I might add as we are all starving to death, red, orange and yellow would fill the stomach, perhaps temporarily. J

    October 16, 2019 at 8:37 am

  4. Bill On The Hill

    Most folks living in New England love the seasonal changes in our trees, myself included.
    To see it day in, day out, 365 days a year might cause me to take it for granted…
    That would be a crying shame methinks!
    Thanks Mary,
    Bill… :~)

    October 16, 2019 at 8:55 am

  5. How amazing that you’ve captured such a range of colors around one single tree, Mary. Lovely!

    Thanks, as always, for what you share with us,
    Deb

    October 16, 2019 at 12:45 pm

  6. Alice

    Mary: why does it look like that’s a Maple-leaved-vine on the tree? It’s not PI or Virginia Creeper.

    October 16, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    • Alice

      The Seek app ID’d your photo as “Grape Family ??

      October 16, 2019 at 3:51 pm

      • That’s correct, Alice. Wild grape it is!

        October 16, 2019 at 5:35 pm

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