Monday, October 17, 2016

Why Do Leaves Change Their Colors?

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October brings a variety of colors to Central Minnesota, especially along the Mississippi river. We are fortunate to have some of the most impeccable views on our course because of our location. The leaves change from green to red to orange and finally yellow before they cascade down to the ground. This is a stunning time of year, but have you ever asked yourself why the leaves change color like they do?

The real scientific reason as to why leaves change isn’t certain, but we know the basics.
It all breaks down to a few different chemicals and proteins found within a leaf’s structure. As you may remember from biology class, chlorophyll (which is necessary for photosynthesis in plants) gives leaves their rich green color. Carotenoids are the dominant pigment found in fall leaves and produce yellow colors in other plants, such as bananas, daffodils, and carrots. Anthocyanins, which give organisms their red color, are also triggered in leaf cells during autumn. Anthocyanins are also found in apples, strawberries, blueberries, and cherries.

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Chlorophylls and carotenoids are present in the leaf’s cells during the growing season, but it is not until the fall when anthocyanins (the red colors) form within the cell. Anthocyanins are often produced as a result of bright light and an excess of sugar within the leaf’s cells.

When the days shorten and the daylight dwindles in the beginning of Autumn, the veins of a leaf begins to become clogged by cells and trap sugars that promote the production of anthocyanins. As the green colors fade away, the yellows and oranges begin to peek through. Anthocyanins, which produce bright red colors, begin to come through after the sugars start to get trapped within the leaf cells. As soon as the all of the connection tissues are sealed and the leaf has completed its metamorphosis of color, it then falls to the ground.

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Central Minnesota has some of the most vibrant colors in the fall, especially along our golf course along the Mississippi river. Now that you know why we get to see these magnificent colors, be sure to stop by St. Cloud Country Club for a round to see the color-changing for yourself!