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Monday, October 7, 2013

Fall Foliage

In the last 24 hours,  I have noticed heightened fall color.   I am not sure how long it is going to last or how much color we are actually going to get but I thought that it was worth mentioning the fall color process, and how the "brilliance" of the leaf color can be predicted to some extent throughout southern Chester County. 

First during the summer months, green chlorophyll is produced. Basically chlorophyll and sunlight combine to create sugars and glucose--which provide the food and energy for plants. Chlorophyll itself is green and absorbs all the other colors except green--giving the leaves of our trees that green hue in the summer months.  The orange, yellow, and brown pigments that work with chlorophyll to create energy from sunlight are all camouflaged by the intense green color of chlorophyll throughout summer.  As September arrives, a combination of the shortening in the length of daylight and the cooler air sends signals to the trees to begin over wintering.  As the leaf receives the signal to begin dying, it is unable to replace its chlorophyll but the other pigments are less resistant to sunlight and remain bright in the leaf as the green fades.  The remaining chlorophyll produces large amounts of sugar that go unused in the leaf.  This produces another pigment which enhances the red color in the leaves. The sunny, dry, and cold weather produces more red pigmentation in the leaves. 

If you did not leave me through that explanation, you are probably wondering--what type of color am I, a Chester County resident, going to experience this fall.  The answer is that we can still hold out hope, but it may not be all that brilliant.  The warmer fall that we have been having is delaying the peak coloration and keeping the chlorophyll more active. 

A heavy frost will help us to get fall color--but a deep freeze, or heavy rains (re. today's weather) will only accelerate leaf drop and lose the views.  However, in my opinion, fall color or not--we still have some of the most beautiful views in the world (and a lot of them are protected thanks to conservation organizations such as TLC!).   Come out and enjoy the views this Saturday at our Origami Dragonfly workshop at Bucktoe Creek Preserve.  Click HERE to find out more information. 

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