Your Arborist in Newton, MA, Answers Why Fall Leaves Change their Color

September 13, 2018 5:14 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Here in New England many of us believe autumn is the most beautiful time of the year. Visitors crowd our highways to peep at our leaves in their rich, colorful splendor. A family tradition might be to strap on hiking boots on a crisp, sunny fall afternoon. Then, we venture out to feel the crunch of the orange and yellow leaves beneath our boots while we feast our eyes on the wondrous, brilliant display of color in the woods.

However, have you ever thought about the reasons the leaves change their color? Your arborist in Newton, MA, has all the answers.


An animal will need to seek out food to consume in order to grow. A tree will create all the food it needs to grow in its leaves. This food-making miracle happens in cells inside the tree’s leaves containing a substance called chlorophyll. This green chemical gives the leaf its vibrant green color during the spring and summer when the days are long and the weather is warm. Chlorophyll is a chemical that takes the energy from the sunlight and transforms the carbon dioxide from the air and water drawn up by the roots into carbohydrates that the tree can use for growth.

Shorter Days

The days of spring and summer draw to an end in autumn, as days become shorter and the weather cools. The leaves stop making as much food and the chlorophyll slowly breaks down. Without the chlorophyll, the green pigment on the leaves gradually retreats, leaving only yellows, oranges, and reds behind. The tree stops producing food for growth, and it begins preparing for hibernation. This begs the question—where did the yellow, orange, and red colors come from?

Pigments of Color

The beautiful yellows and oranges that you see in autumn were always there. They have just been overshadowed by the powerful green pigment of the chlorophyll all spring and summer. These yellow and orange pigments are called carotenes and xanthophyll pigments, which give the same orange color that is seen in a carrot.

The extraordinary reds and the purples that you see are a result of another chemical change that happens each autumn. The red and purple hues come from pigments called anthocyanin, which protect the tree from excess sunlight and are quickly gathering as much energy as possible before the winter hits.

If you are seeing mostly browns, this is due to a mixture of a residue of chlorophyll and the other pigments in the leaf during the remainder of the fall season.

Finally, the leaf will go through its last chemical change which will break off from the branch. The branch will seal off the tear similar to the way scar tissue works. The tree will slowly go into hibernation as each leaf falls from the tree.

Choosing an Arborist in Newton, MA

When caring for the trees on your property, no matter what time of year, you want to enlist the professionals. BBD Tree Service is Newton, MA’s most experienced tree experts. We are family-owned and are available for you 24/7. We are here for you whether it’s professional tree removal or simply trimming a branch away from a power line. Give us a call today to see how we can help keep your trees healthy and your family safe.

Categorised in:

This post was written by Writer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *