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Autumn Foliage.

October 29, 2011

Late October is the height of the autumn color season this year in central Ohio.  The colorful transition of deciduous tree leaves from green to yellow, orange, red and brown started slowly, increased by mid-month and then sprang into high gear recently.  It happens quite fast once it gets going, and it will most likely be over just as fast.

This process has been uneven, with some areas predominantly green while other areas are quite brightly colored, or even with a good portion of their trees bare.  Going to different parks in the area this month has highlighted how local areas can vary significantly in color content.

A brief look at what is going on is in order.  Autumn leaf colors are, interestingly enough, often the result of the color green going away as opposed to leaves changing into brighter colors.  This happens when photosynthesis– the production of nutrients from carbon dioxide and sunlight- starts shutting down.  For technical reasons, green is the predominant color of leaves in the spring and summer when photosynthesis is in full gear.  When the amount of daylight declines, so does the process of generating nutrients, and the green fades as the trees start going dormant and living off of the nutrients stored in their trunks until spring starts the process all over again.  When the color green disappears, other pigments- there all along, but masked until now by the color green- are suddenly visible.  These are the yellow and orange colors we enjoy.  Red colors are the result of sugars in the leaves, and brown is the color of waste products.  Suddenly, all of these colors are visible at once in a riot of seasonal entertainment.

Certain tree species have certain recognizable colors and hues.  Maples cover the spectrum with brilliant colors; beeches are often brilliant yellow, oaks tend towards red and brown.  Walnut leaves turn yellow earlier than other trees; they also lose their leaves earlier as well.

Another fun thing about autumn is that you can identify leaves by looking at them upon the ground.  You can hold them in your hand and study them easier than when they are on tree branches above your head.

Autumn is my favorite season, and the seasonal color show has a lot to do with that.  It’s nice of nature to go out in a blaze of glory, giving us memories to tide us over until spring.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2011 12:08 am

    Lovely examples of fall color in Ohio!

  2. October 30, 2011 7:41 am

    Gorgeous photos. Reminds me of when I lived Michigan. 🙂

  3. October 30, 2011 9:48 am

    As you know, same here in Michigan. You always give us such an education in the finer points. Thank you for that. And of course, your photos are lovely. Ah, fall, my favorite. Margie

  4. October 30, 2011 5:17 pm

    Love, Love, Love these shots!! I love the big red leaves, I saw a lot of familiar leaves, including sweet gum. Thanks for sharing these… I love to photograph leaves through the limbs too, too get the dark color of the bark as a contrast to the bright colors of the leaves.

  5. October 30, 2011 9:00 pm

    These are beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

  6. October 30, 2011 11:34 pm

    Your leaves are beautiful this year. I haven’t seen a poplar leaf since I left W.Va. Thanks for the memories.

  7. October 31, 2011 12:21 am

    Those are all beautiful photos, but the first is just spectacular! I love seeing the reds and oranges that you have there. We have some red, but only in the low-growing bushes, and just tinges of orange in our mountain maple. THere are, of course, some beautiful trees that have been planted in the towns here but they are not natives and don’t populate out forests! I would love to spend some time in a deciduous forest in the fall!

  8. October 31, 2011 2:58 am

    Autumn’s majestic beauty shines through in your photos and thoughts. 🙂

  9. October 31, 2011 2:16 pm

    What a feast for the eyes! Your autumn colors are similar to the ones we have here in New England. I especially love the fifth photo, the undersides of translucent leaves with the sunlight highlighting a variety of colors, all on one tree. Beautiful!

  10. November 1, 2011 9:52 am

    Beautiful…I love fall too…and here in Little Rock things are still in between…that is we are still green, with some trees turning color…so we aren’t at “peak” yet…our full color will happen sometime in the first 2 or 3 weeks of November…fall is a looong season here…and I love it…after a summer of brutal heat, it nice we have this great weather…today it will be 70 or so…bright blue skies…light wind…and the colors are coming everyday…much like your pictures W.S….so I am looking forward to it…and a “road trip” to the mountains will be in order…thanks again for the great post…

  11. November 1, 2011 5:07 pm

    It’s my favorite season, too.

    You have a wonderful series of colors here. 🙂

  12. November 2, 2011 11:32 am

    Yes, beautiful colors. So interesting that they are there all along.

  13. November 5, 2011 1:31 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

    Jim, a long fall season sounds great- it doesn’t seem quite as long here 🙂


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