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Why do leaves change colors in the fall?

Fall is here! With all of the reds, oranges and yellows bursting onto the scene, lets dive into why it happens.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Fall is the BEST time of the year, and America knows it. 

According to a YouGovAmerica poll, most Americans say Fall is their favorite season. 

What’s there not to love about cooler nights, festivals, pumpkin spice, football season, and of course, those vibrant reds, oranges and yellows that burst onto the scene as leaves change color. 

But what causes the green, leafy color that we see in the summer to break down?  

First, of all, the colors that you see on the trees depend on the different pigments that are within them.  

Xanthophylls are responsible for the bright yellow colors that we see, think corn or in the yolk of an egg.  

Carotenoids are more of the more orange colors that we see, like carrots.  

Anthocyanins are the reddish pigment that we see, kind of like apples or red wine.

“Basically when you see a tree turn into it’s vibrant fall foliage, what it’s doing is pulling all of its sugars back. It’s going into its dormant stage,” Tim Leibfried of Lewis Burns Tree Service said. 

Sometimes we don’t always get those colors though, they’re a bit more muted or the colors don’t last as long.  

Credit: WPMT FOX43
Peak fall colors range all across the US!

That’s because the weather plays a HUGE role!

Warm, sunny days, and cool, crisp nights are the perfect recipe for sugar breakdown which gives us the color show that we look forward to every year. We need about 30 days of that weather.

The veins that carry the fluids around the tree are closed off as the temperatures get colder, and the leaves fall off.  

The leaves that gather around the base of the tree break down, give the tree added nutrients. In the spring, the process starts all over!

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