Why Do Leaves Change Color in the Fall? The Answer is Revealing

Right now, you might be noticing a shift in the air. Cooler temperatures serve as a reminder to pull out that puffy coat or scarf. It’s staying dark longer in the morning, and the sun is setting much earlier in the evening.

We are not the only ones taking notice. Trees do as well.

Leaves get their green color from a chemical called chlorophyll, which helps trees take in sunlight. Trees use the sunlight captured by chlorophyll to drive a process called photosynthesis, which is how trees eat, so to speak.

Tree leaves also have orange and yellow pigments. These pigments are called carotenoids, which are also responsible for the color in pumpkins and carrots. During the warmer months, these colors are masked by all the chlorophyll active inside the leaves. When temperatures and daylight hours begin drop in the fall, chlorophyll production also declines, and these other colors – reds, yellows, oranges — are revealed.

<< The chlorophyll receeding from the leaf back into the base of the tree.

Now, when you see a bright yellow or red tree during the fall, perhaps in an area found on our foliage map, you will know the science behind the colors.