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  • Writer's pictureK.L.

The Science Behind: Autumn Leaves (Cover- Ishita Aggarwal)

The crunchy sound of the crisp leaves, the warm hug of a latte, and the breezy wind and diamond sky set for winter are all compliments of autumn. Autumn or fall is known for its beautifully colored crimson leaves. But how do these leaves obtain their fiery color? And why do they LEAF a tree? Get it? Puns aside, the matter of leaves is actually more fascinating than it seems.

Fall or Autumn is the season of transition from summer to winter. The days get shorter and there is less sunlight around. You probably know that one of the key factors to a healthy tree is sunlight. In autumn, there is not enough sunlight to completely sustain a tree. A plant or tree usually makes its food through the process of photosynthesis with the help of sunlight. Again, there is not enough sunlight in autumn. The tree then shuts down instead of trying to make food in the winter.

Since the tree shuts down, it stops producing chlorophyll, which is what makes leaves green. You may think that leaves are green, but in reality, they are orange and red and that gorgeous crimson. The tree may stop producing chlorophyll but it still produces something. It produces a chemical called anthocyanin. This chemical is red and replaces the job of chlorophyll.

So now that we know how leaves change color, we need to know why they fall off trees. The trees that you see leaves gliding off of in the fall are called deciduous trees. Trees, like humans, have their own senses too. They know that the days will get shorter and colder and that they can't sustain all of the leaves and so, they are let go. It bares the trees from stress in the winter.

There are a couple more reasons why leaves fall off trees in the autumn. Bare branches are more resistant and are less likely to be damaged by the effects of winter (hail, snow, etc.). The nutrients from the leaves will be transferred to the tree in spring once the leaves decompose. The leaves that fall around the tree also help protect the tree from damage to its roots from the severe frost in winter. In winter, there won't be much water in the ground. So, by losing leaves, the tree's need for water is reduced.

You know, when you look at it, we're like trees as well. We need water, we need food, and we grow our souls as well. I hope I didn't make that last line too TREESY! Ha! All in all, the amazing transformation of leaves with the power of science and chemicals is pretty hard to BELEAF! (Ok, I'll end the puns here!)

Remember to stay curious and not make horrible puns!



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