First Day of Fall

While it may not feel like it outside – fall is officially here.

The start of fall is measured by the autumnal equinox, which according to the U.S. Naval Observatory is today – Wednesday September 23, 2015.

However you can also measure the start of the season in a more colorful way.

“That’s marked by the leaves changing color. What happens is the days start getting shorter and a little colder and a lot of that chlorophyll that produces the green in the leaves dies back,” said Curator at the Morton Arboretum, Matt Lobdell.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful parts of the season, plants are actually doing something vital to their health. Prepping them for the winter coming.

“The plants are trying to recuperate their losses in terms of chlorophyll. Since the days are shorter they aren’t able to photosynthesize as much and so they try to recuperate the energy they put into making chlorophyll,” said Lobdell.

Chlorophyll is produced during photosynthesis – the process plants use to turn sunlight into oxygen. That’s why when there is less sunlight; the trees need to conserve their supply during the cold so they can survive.

Though it is still a little early to see the vivid colors just yet, we won’t have to wait too much longer.

“Some of it you’ll start to see very soon, one of our earliest things to change color is the Sumac which produces a vivid red color and that should happen in the next week or so. When things really start to peak in the middle of October. During the second or third week the Maple trees start to change and that’s when we get the most color,” said Lobdell.

The Arboretum also conducts daily fall color checks – posting when you can see the best color on their website.

NCTV17’s Natalie Vitale Reports.

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