I have to say that the onset of autumn not only turns trees golden, but also sets something off in my body clock. I become all lethargic (like I should soon be dropping into hibernation like the hedgehogs), and crave warmth (the shower notch gets cranked up a few points). I feel like drinking mulled wine every night and find myself wishing I could buy firework-scented incenses. I think it’s plant life that sends my body in seasonal overdrive, perhaps a 6th sense.
I always wondered what it was that made leaves change colour and my question was answered on autumn watch. So I shall share my bit of science for the week with you all, and will know that you’ve learnt something new today.
You may have heard of a beautiful thing called photosynthesis. Funnily enough I only know how to spell this word because of my best friend in year 3. I asked him what his favourite word was, and he responded plainly it was ‘photosynthesis – duh!’ All I can say is it was way beyond my vocabulary back then! Now I know that photosynthesis is a chemical reaction between carbon dioxide, water and sunlight aided by chlorophyll that produces glucose and oxygen. It’s this very chlorophyll that give leaves their green colour.
As winter approaches, the days get shorted and less light is available for photosynthesis. The plant, recognising this, packs up for winter and the chlorophyll breaks down and isn’t regenerated. The remaining pigments in the plant (carotenoids and anthocyanins), that are usually hidden by the dominant chlorophyll, are revealed, adorning the landscape with nature’s autumn canvas.
Each species has a different trigger as to when they suck out the chlorophyll and turn their leaves ruby red and therefore, the landscape is speckled not only with different stages autumn but also with different palettes of colour as every species has its own special tint. All bow down to Mother Nature…