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The Chemistry of Fall Colours
Autumn is the second spring when each leaf is a flower ~ Albert Camus
Nature’s greatest paintings adorn the trees as the days get shorter and the warmth of summer fades. This change is made up of surprisingly limited chemicals that create an autumn hue.
Gold and yellow are not made; Instead, they need to be covered when the leaves begin to close for the winter. Chlorophyll, the lush green of our world, is an unstable compound. An active plant needs regular replacement of chlorophyll as it is destroyed by sunlight. Chlorophyll is aided in its quest to collect light by a group of compounds of carotenoids, compounds such as carotene (orange) and xanthophyll (yellow). Chlorophyll and carotenoids are both attached to plant cell membranes and are not free to relocate around plants. Carotenoids give color to things like corn, carrots, cauliflower and bananas.
The onset of autumn signals the plant to stop producing new chlorophyll and conserve its energy. As the chlorophyll decreases, the carotenoids continue to result in their chemical robustness and the green barrier is dropped. As a result, yellows and oranges are produced by removing green matter from the leaves.
What causes the onset of autumn?
The main sign for autumn is a short day, but cold nights also cause tree change. However, the summer drought may delay the autumn as the trees try to produce more sugar before winter. To protect itself from the damage caused by frozen leaves, retain water and minerals, release waste and avoid various diseases, the tree grows a corky membrane between the branches and the leaves. As the length of the day decreases enough, the tree begins to gradually reduce chlorophyll production and the fibers to the leaves gradually close. When the splitting is complete and the connective tissue is closed, the leaves are ready to fall off. Closed membranes not only block the flow of internal nutrients but also block the outflow of glucose trapped in the leaves. Leafy sugar, which is stuck in some trees, such as maples, reacts to form red pigments called anthocyanins. Anthocyanin pigments give color to objects such as: cranberries, red apples, grapes, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and plums, among other things. The pigments produced by anthocyanins are sensitive to the pH of the cells. If the fresh water is very acidic, the pigment gives off a bright red color. If the Tonle Sap Lake is less acidic, its color will be more purple.
It is not clear why these trees waste sugar in the leaves like this, as nature generally hates waste. Some scientists believe it helps trees retain leaves longer because anthocyanins reduce the freezing point of leaves. Others think it is due to anthocyanins when absorbed into the soil from compost leaves that help prevent some other plant species from growing when the leaves fall, reducing competition for nutrients in the soil. Land around trees.
As we all know, different trees can turn different colors in autumn. Oak tends to turn brown or red, or a mixture of the two. Hickory turns bronze; aspen, gold; dogwood mixed purple and red. Maples vary slightly depending on the species. The red maple will turn red. The cane sugar will turn orange / red. Black maple will turn bright yellow. Elm leaves, on the other hand, tend to fall simply without much color change before falling.
The eventual browning of dead leaves comes from the residue left in the leaves when the veins are closed, especially from oxidized tannins. Tannins are bitter plant compounds that bind to proteins and other organic compounds.
What determines what a colorful autumn will look like?
Usually the most vibrant colors on the leaves can be observed after a very hot sunny day in the fall, which provides a cool but not cold at night. This is because there is a lot of sugar in the leaves, but it sticks when the veins are closed. This leads to increased anthocyanin production. Anthocyanins develop best where the soil is acidic; Nitrate is scarce and light is abundant. Therefore, the light bath tips of the maple leaves and the sunny part of the apple are the reddest. The leaves, which are mainly anthocyanins, will turn red. The leaves have a good amount of anthocyanins and carotenoids will be orange. The leaves contain carotenoids, but little or no anthocyanins will turn yellow. Some leaves include oxidized tannins, which are responsible for the brown color of some oak leaves.
It is suggested that autumn occur in waves. The first wave of yellow is prominent. Willow, poplar, birch and some maples. The second wave is orange. Silver maple and white oak. Finally, a third wave of red from trees like maples. The best autumn colors are between the second and third waves.
Autumn wins you the best, with its appeal for sympathy for its corruption. ~ Robert Browning Hamilton
Why do we have autumn colors?
The evolutionary function of autumn colors is less clear. As described above, some autumn colors are not intentionally produced, but prove that as the green fades, other colors are actively created by the trees during this time. There are two current theories to help explain why trees can benefit from autumn colors: photo protection and evolution. Photoprotection can be a method in which autumn colorants help the tree increase nutrients that can be reabsorbed from its leaves before they are dropped. Research has shown that anthocyanins ‘protect’ leaves from the effects of light at low temperatures, which will prevent the reabsorption of nutrients such as nitrogen from the leaves to the branches. Coevolution recommends that colors provide a warning to insects that attach themselves or their eggs to trees in winter. The color indicates the amount of chemical protection against the insect. The brightest or strongest colored twigs deter most insects. Insects benefit by finding trees that have minimal protection for their eggs. The reddest leaves reduce the number of parasites they carry. This theory is based on a larger part of the evolutionary ‘signal theory’, which says that trees must defend themselves in this way, otherwise they will not be able to put much effort and expense into doing so. There is some evidence that aphids avoid trees with red leaves.
The most useful camera in the fall is the polar filter, it acts in two main ways; First, increase the blue of the sky and increase the contrast with autumn colors, and second, reduce the reflection of light from the leaves, making the colors more vibrant. In addition to looking at the forest in the autumn fog, paying attention to the light meters will Be deceived by fog. The effect of the haze is enhanced by sunlight through the misty forest, revealing spectacular ‘crepuscular’ rays.
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