Ever wondered why the leaves change colors?

Fall is all about cooler temperatures, shorter days and of course fall foliage.

Zack: Fall weather and why leaves change colors

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Driving around lately you may have noticed the leaves have started to change and our southern version of fall foliage has begun.

Now it’s certainly not the colors and views they get up north but the few trees that do change here locally can still make for some beautiful scenery. It also brings up the question, why do the leaves change colors every autumn?

It all has to do with chlorophyll and I’m sure you remember that word from back in grade school but you may not remember how this all plays out.

Chlorophyll is what gives a leaf its green color and it’s also the food that feeds that leaf for many months out of the year. As the days get shorter in autumn, that chlorophyll lessens and the tree begins to realize winter is on the way. The response to winter coming is for a tree to pull the nutrients back to the trunk thus letting the leaves fend for themselves.

As this occurs and the leaves lose their chlorophyll some other pigments start to show up thus giving off the amazing colors we see - like carotene (orange), xanthophyll (yellow) or anthocyanin (red).

The pretty pigments of fall
The pretty pigments of fall (Source: FOX 8 Weather)

Unfortunately these other colors don’t last very long as the next gust of wind that comes will send the leaves falling and then the dead of winter is just one step closer to arriving.

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