Sciencemadness Discussion Board

can someone please explain to me this?

withoutasoul - 17-11-2003 at 19:37

Many trees have leaves that are green in the summer and red, yellow, or orange in autumn. Where were these colors during the summer? How can they suddenly appear in autumn?

thanx :)

[Edited on 18-11-2003 by withoutasoul]

Blind Angel - 17-11-2003 at 20:03

I think they are due to the disparition of Chlorophyle or by it's oxidation while it's "die", but this is personnal though so it may not be true...

chemoleo - 17-11-2003 at 20:26

there are many chlorophyll-type compounds, and plant hormones trigger their release/degradation.
These colours are a result of their respective absorbtive range.
Chlorophyll absorbs in the red and blue range within the visible spectrum (resulting in green as the colour you see), while phycoerythrin absorbs blue and green ( resulting in red/orange), and phycocyanin absorbs yellow light. These pigments adsorb most of the visible light, and have the leftover of the green colour (during summer.. thus explaining why it is very dark under a jungle tree foliage).
Hence, during the seasonal cycle, certain chlorophylls are degraded sequentially, resulting in different absorptive spectra. I think yellow leaves correspond to remaining xantophyll (cant remember how it's spelled.).

PS Yes there are plant hormones (it's not just in animals). One prominent one is ethylene (CH2-CH2), which is used for ripening fruit (such as bananas)

JustMe - 18-11-2003 at 09:11

Hm, you might try paying attention in class, the answer to this question is grade school level science.

Anyway, a simple google search brought up a number of sites with a more indepth answer, such as:

Short answer, the colors were always there, only masked by the chlorophyll.

unionised - 20-11-2003 at 15:34

Or you could look a little further than grade school like
and find that the colours are not all there before the Autumn. (The site you cited says that too, the red colours were not there all along).

[Edited on 20-11-2003 by unionised]

[Edited on 20-11-2003 by unionised]

foreign maple - 27-10-2020 at 15:37

i think the pigments are there the whole time. i preformed TLC on a maple leaf and it had many colors including green, red, yellow and brown so the answer is that they are there the whole time but i think the chlorophyll gets degraded probably due to a hormone release during colder temperatures leaving behind phycoerythrin and phycocyanin.

TriiodideFrog - 30-10-2020 at 23:25

The Short Answer:

As summer fades into fall, the days start getting shorter and there is less sunlight. This is a signal for the leaf to prepare for winter and to stop making chlorophyll. Once this happens, the green colour fades, then yellow and orange pigments known as carotenoids are revealed in the leaves of many species. In other plants, pigments called anthocyanins accumulate in the leaves at this time, giving them shades of red and purple.