In one of my classes at UGA, we had to keep a fall leaf journal. It was a big grade at the end of the semester but I have to admit, it might have taken the back burner. Why would I care about when and what color the leaves turned other than WHY they turned for a test question? (Oh, that would be because as the weather gets cooler, production of chlorophyll (which is the key component in a plants ability to turn sunlight into the glucose that feeds the trees) is slowed so that the true colors of the leaves are visible.
• Orange leaves contain Beta-Carotene
• Red leaves have Anthocyanins
• Yellow leaves have Flavonol – cool, huh?!)
At the time I was more concerned with chemistry, plant physiology, football, and bonfires with friends. But I did pay some attention and in the end it did create an appreciation for fall color. I love anticipating the fire of Maple leaves, the burgundy clouds of the dogwoods, and of course the electric yellow of the Ginko.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac for this year, it looks like the best leaf watching for our area will be October 21-November 7. Take a look outside or go for a drive, you will see the Maples and Dogwoods are already starting to turn. It’s actually fun to keep a journal of the leaf changes. Each variety has its own personality concerning color, time of change, and how they drop their leaves. If you don’t know what the tree is that you are looking at, take pictures and ask us! We’re glad to help with this adventure!
Falling leaves So leaves falling in your yard can be a bit annoying but there is a bit of science behind it. Trees are smarter than you think. In order to cope with the winter temperatures that could damage the leaves and possibly kill the tree, trees slowly close off the veins that carry water and nutrients to and from the leaves protecting the limbs and body of the tree. Once the veins are closed off and new cells between the stem and leaf are created, water and nutrients no longer flow to and from the leaf – this enables the leaf to die and weaken at the stem, eventually falling gracefully to the ground.
Concerning the carpet of leaves in your yard and the bother of raking them up; Consider adding them to your beds, woods, or compost piles. When leaves fall to the ground, they begin to break down and eventually create a rich humus. Humus is nutrient rich and acts as a continual source of nutrition and water for trees and plants, helping to promote life and plant health in the next spring season.