Have You Ever Thought: Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Joan Agie
Oct 25, 2023 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Nov 16, 2021
Selection of beautiful and colorful autumn leaves.

Ever dreamt of walking through a maple forest with the trees bearing bright red and brown colors?

The answer is yes for most people! Maples are a treat to the eye during the fall season and no one can stop from falling in love with the brilliant colorful trees.

Fall is the period when we see leaves on the roads and backyards in different colors and in a dried-up state. Children tend to jump in these leaves as they make a crunch sound.

However, it is important to understand wonder why leaves suddenly change colors and this can be explained with science.

During this period of fall, children can get a glimpse of the vibrant changes in colors and understand the chemical reasons firsthand. While the breakage of chlorophyll gives anthocyanin space to work and the trees can be seen covered in bright reddish-brown leaves, the pigments vary a lot in different plants and are different for every tree.

If you want to learn more cool facts, go ahead and check out why do men go bald and why do metals conduct electricity here on Kidadl!

Why do leaves change color in the fall?

Leaves tend to change color depending on the season and this is because of the change in sunlight. During different seasons, a certain property of leaves goes missing and makes leaves change color.

During fall, leaves turn from green to yellowish-orange every year. This happens when the change in seasons happens.

During the time of fall, the days become shorter due to which leaves receive less sunlight. This is a sign for leaves to start the transition for winter and therefore they stop making chlorophyll. Once this happens, the green color changes, and the leaves start to show specks of red, yellow, and orange colors.

Chlorophyll is formed when there is an abundance of sunlight, especially during spring and summer. When the leaves receive less sunlight, the process of photosynthesis is low and therefore the pigments start to change colors.

Why do leaves change color in fall in New England?

New England experiences fall in its full glory during the beginning of the month of October and as fall starts to settle in, the leaves are seen to change their colors.

The leaves start to lose their pigment called chlorophyll and change their color to orange. This happens because of the pigment called Carotenoids.

Leaves also turn red which happens because of the pigment that is called Anthocyanins, or too yellow which happens because of Xanthophylls. Science predicts that the reason for this change and leaves changing color during fall depends on the atmosphere and the temperature.

Leaves have chlorophyll which stays consistent due to photosynthesis, and as the seasons change, leaves start to receive less sunlight and change colors or the leaves start to fall.

The advent of fall also changes the moisture in the air. There is a lower amount of water and carbon dioxide compared to the amount leaves get during summer, so fall trees start to lose leaves.

Why do tree leaves change color in fall?

The very basic reason for leaves to change colors when the weather changes is due to the advent of fall and the change in the pattern of the day.

Trees need sunlight to create chlorophyll, which in turn keeps the leaves green. When the weather changes from summer to fall, the length of daylight changes, and temperatures drop as well.

With winter around the corner, the temperatures go from warm to cold and the leaves stop their food-making process due to a lack of light. As sugar is not produced, this affects the chlorophyll and the energy starts to break down in the leaves.

The green color leaf cells change to shades of yellow and orange. This happens due to the change of pigment.

The leaves change color to orange because of carotenoids, shades of red come up due to the presence of anthocyanins, and yellow colors show up due to xanthophylls.

While these changes are common for plants all over the world, it is much more visible in areas that contain maples as these plants have the most vibrant and cool color transition from summer to winter.

Do all trees' leaves change color?

A change in season does affect the pigments but not all trees change color during the fall. According to science, chlorophyll pigments are more visible in deciduous trees and the leaves of these trees only change color.

A color change happens in trees that are deciduous as they shed leaves during the season change at the end of the growing season. The lack of energy and food in leaves, makes leaves stop producing chlorophyll.

The warm weather changes to cold and the pigments start to break down in the plants. This makes the green color fade to specks of warm colors.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Have you ever thought: why do leaves change color? then why not take a look at Why do we have baby teeth?

Interesting teeth facts to know!, or Do you know? Why do monks shave their heads? Religion facts to know.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

Read full bio >