Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Earlier this week we celebrated the autumnal equinox, one of only two days in the year in which the Sun crosses the celestial equator. These first days of Fall mean shorter days and cooler temperatures, but here in Vermont one also finds apple picking, harvest festivals and ever-popular cider donuts.  One of my favorite things to do in the Fall since I was a kid is to take an annual hike to the top of Mt. Mansfield, the state's highest peak at an elevation of 4,393'. On a recent family hike up the mountain, my boys were amazed by the early changing of leaves.  Like many other parts of the world, Fall in Vermont brings lots of nice yellow and orange to our hillsides. However, we’re fortunate in this part of the US to have one of the largest populations of maple trees. Maples, especially Sugar Maple and Red Maple, contain special red chemical compounds produced in the Fall adding to the brilliant color. While my older son raced up the trail ahead of our group, I was a bit taken back when my 7 year old stopped in amazement at his first glimpse of the valley from tree line and said, "I know why leaves change color, Dad."  He then went on to recite his lesson, second grader appropriate of course, nearly word for word.  While I remembered it had do with chlorophyll and more sunshine meant better foliage, a crucial part of the Vermont economy, my little one knew nearly as much as me a 40-year old native.  I was therefore delighted a few days  ago to see the American Chemical Society release a fascinating video explaining why leaves produce their amazing Fall color.
Now it's all coming back. This year marks BioTek's 46th anniversary of operating its business from the beautiful Green Mountain State. 

Vermont mountains

By: BioTek Instruments, Jason Greene, Sr. Product Marketing Manager

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