Fall Leaves

Looking out the window, you may notice that your view is getting more colorful.

Ed Hedborn at the Morton Arboretum says this is the plants way of chemically preparing for winter.

“During the growing season, the green pigments in the leaves are made and broken down over a two to three week period. In the fall, less of the green pigment, the chlorophyll, is made and then broken down. As the green pigment becomes less, there are other pigments in the leaf that are there all year. So, as the green color fades, the yellow is unmasked,” said Ed Hedborn, Manager of Plant Records at The Morton Arboretum.

All leaves change depending on the temperature of the season we’ve seen thus far. But, to get colors like these, it’s what’s inside that counts.

Oak trees will change to a warm purple color, while the most popular fall tree, the Sugar Maple will showoff shades of red.

But when to expect the vibrant colors is dependent on the weather.

“Color should be pretty good this year because we have had adequate moisture during the growing season, and right now the main trigger is shortening daylight so the days are getting shorter,” said Hedborn. “But, what’s going to bring the color out between now and the middle of October is if we have great weather. Bright sunny days, cool nights.”

The Morton Arboretum expects most trees to have their brightest appearance in the second to third week of October.

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