Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?


Autumn is a beautiful season because of its scenic colors but you may be wondering why do leaves change color in the fall. The rich green colors of summer transform into this lovely hue of reds, oranges, golds, and browns as the leaves fall off the trees. Sometimes, in some places, it can be breathtaking. The temperature also begins to cool and become crisp.

This is a natural process and is something that just happens just like the way the season changes. But what makes the leaves change color? There are some very simple explanations to it that we will explore.

The Earth’s Seasons

To understand why do leaves change color in the fall better, it’s best to have some knowledge about the changing seasons that we experience and why we have them. It’s also interesting to know why some places experience all four seasons while others do not.

The four seasons, winter, spring, summer, and fall can vary significantly and can cause changes in the world around them. These also vary by location but there are broad definitions in most of the boundaries.

Why do we have seasons? The turning of the Earth makes day and night. In 24 hours, the world makes one turn around. It is a day when we are facing the sun and it is the night when we face away. We travel around the sun in a circle. When the Earth spins, its axis tilts which mean that when it’s summer in the area of the UK, we are leaning toward the sun. And as the Earth travels around the sun, it begins to tilt away and it becomes winter. This will also help explain why do leaves change color in the fall.

  • Spring

    In spring, the weather is warmer and sometimes, wetter. The seeds of plants take root. Vegetation begins to grow. Animals that hibernate begin to wake and those that migrate return from warmer climates. They might also bring newborns. This is why spring is a symbol of new beginnings.

  • Summer

    During the summer, the temperature increases to their hottest. Sometimes, they spike too high causing heat waves and droughts which are a problem for a lot of people, animals, and plants. But rainfall could also increase in some areas. Other things happen as well, like forest fires that become more frequent.

  • Autumn

    In the fall or autumn, the temperature begins to drop and cool again. Plants may become dormant and animals prepare themselves for the coming of winter or the cold weather. They store food and start to migrate to warmer regions. This is also when a lot of cultures around the world celebrate bountiful harvests with yearly festivals. And in a bit, we will learn why do leaves change color in the fall.

    Some of the popular holidays around fall are Thanksgiving, which is a historical commemoration but has become spiritual and also Halloween. This answers the question when is Thanksgiving this year. If you want to prepare early for Halloween, this is how to carve pumpkins and here is how to make fake blood.

    There are a lot of great things that mark fall. For those who like to travel, here is the best fall vacations, best places to travel in autumn.

  • Winter

    In winter, it becomes really chilly. Some areas experience snow or ice and others get cold rain. Some animals change their appearance to adapt to the cold.

    Those who are closer to the north and south poles experience icier winters and those who are closer to the equator experience hot summers. This is why winter is summer in Australia. The time of the year that a region experiences a season depends on its location in the northern or southern hemisphere.

Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall?

Now you know why seasons change and how they are different for certain areas in the world, it’s easier to understand why do leaves change colors in the fall. There are several factors.

  • Chlorophyll

    Chlorophyll is what gives leaves their green color. It’s essential for the process called photosynthesis which is the chemical reaction where plants use sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and glucose. During autumn, the bright green color of plants fades away. They start to show yellow and orange colors.

    The truth is, these colors have been in the leaves ever since but we do not see them in the summer because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll. So that’s one of the reasons of why do leaves change color in the fall.

  • Carotenoids

    These produce the yellow, orange, and brown colors in plants like corn, carrots, and daffodils. It’s also what’s present in rutabagas, buttercups, and bananas. During fall, the carotenoids that are present in the leaves are unmasked and the plants show their colors. Another reason of why do leaves change color in the fall.

  • Anthocyanin

    This is what gives color to fruits like cranberries, red apples, concord grapes, blueberries, strawberries, and plums. It’s water soluble and it appears in the watery liquid of cells. During fall, night length increases and chlorophyll production slows down. Most of the anthocyanin is produced during autumn in response to bright light and excess plant sugars within the cells of the leaves. It’s a pretty good and clear explanation of why do leaves change summer in the fall.

In addition, the amount of moisture in the soil also affects the colors of autumn. This moisture also varies from year to year just like the weather so the combination of the two highly variable factors mean that no two autumns will be exactly alike. Those are the major explanations as to why do leaves change color in the fall.

Why Do the Leaves Fall

Aside from changing colors, the leaves in the fall are known to “fall” and this is one of the reasons the season is called fall. This is another great thing to understand aside from why do leaves change color in the fall.

Because the days get shorter and the intensity of sunlight declines, leaves begin the process that leads to their fall. Their veins that carry fluids in and out of the leaf begins to close gradually. The clogged veins will trap the sugars and the connecting tissues will seal off so the leaves are ready to fall. It’s one of the key things in understanding why do leaves change color in the fall.