The Turning of the Leaves

Once again, fall is approaching quickly. The time for the turning of the leaves on the mountains. And Mount Sunapee has some of the best viewing in the fall if you want to see vibrant colors on the trees.

But do you know what causes the turning of the leaves?

Nature has set up leaves to be food factories for the trees. Trees take in ground water through their roots. In addition, they absorb carbon dioxide (the gas we exhale) from the air. Then they use sunlight to change this water and carbon dioxide into glucose and oxygen. The oxygen they release back into the air (providing us with oxygen to breathe) and use the glucose (a kind of sugar) for growing and for energy. This process is called photosynthesis.

The turning of the leaves begins with the darker, drier days of fall and winter. As long as there is enough sunlight and water, the green color in the leaves dominates. Chlorophyll is a chemical that keeps the leaves green during this time.

Once the fall comes with less sunlight and water, the trees start to rest and will live off the stored glucose through the winter. As the turning of the leaves progresses, the green color grows less, uncovering yellow and orange colors some of which have been present all along under the green.

The brighter colors of purple and red are made in the cooler days of the fall. During the turning of the leaves some glucose is trapped in the leaves. This turns red as the days cool down.

Changes happen in the leaves of trees that lose their leaves in the fall. One major change that happens during the turning of the leaves is a layer of cells at the base of the leaves seal off the leaves from the rest of the tree. This layer is called the abscission or separation layer. During the summer small tubes allow water and glucose to cross this layer. As it seals up in the fall, these tubes are sealed.

Brown colors in the time of the turning of the leaves comes from tannin, a waste product, that is trapped in the leaves.

Once the separation layer of cells has sealed off the leaves, the bottom layer begins deteriorating. Once it has done so, the leaf falls from the tree.

There is no better place to return to after a day of looking at the amazing fall colors in the Mount Sunapee area than Follansbee Inn. Call 603.927.4221. Or visit Come see us along the shores of Kezar Lake for an enjoyable and relaxing time.