Technically, the amazing display of color that happens in the autumn it is nothing more than a simple act on mother nature’s behalf. As winter weather starts to draw near, the days get shorter, the sun is out less… photosynthesis dwindles and the chlorophyll production in leaves drops, making the green pigment in the leaves break down and the other natural pigments more prominent: reds, yellows, oranges. What results is one of the most beautiful displays of natural color that you can see.

Seriously… take a picture. It will last longer.

The color change in leaves is not just due to the drop in production of chlorophyll exposing the natural pigments of the leaf. It is due to a more general process of dormancy and dying called senescence.

As senescence occurs, chlorophyll production grinds to a halt, and the existing chlorophyll gets broken down. This causes the natural xanthophylls and carotenoids (yellows and oranges) also present in the leaf to be the dominant colors. In some types, especially oaks, there are also tannins present in large quantities that produce browns. But there are also new compounds produced as by-products of the chorophyll destruction and the general decay of the leaf. These are responsible for the vibrant red and purple colors (in particular, anthocyanins) that you see in leaves, especially in the later stages of autumn.

Source: names of compounds were checked at

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