Fall Foliage Fires Up Across Mid-Atlantic
Photographer: Courtesy: Earth Watch Institute
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The cool temperatures and plentiful rains from the late summer months should allow for the fall foliage to be pretty spectacular this year. While high temperatures and drought has plaque much of the country this year there was some question as to whether our fall colors would be ruined.
Too wet of conditions can limit vibrant bright colors while too dry of conditions can make for colors to be dull as well. The combination of dry hot conditions to a rapid switch to cool wetter conditions may make for a very nice display this year. From September thru November, trees and other plants along the banks of Maryland's rivers and creeks are ablaze with red, orange, yellow, gold, green, and other colors.
Here are the expected fall foliage peak color times for the country.
Where do autumn colors come from?
A color palette needs pigments, and there are three types that are involved in autumn color.
• Chlorophyll, which gives leaves their basic green color. It is necessary for photosynthesis, the chemical reaction that enables plants to use sunlight to manufacture sugars for their food. Trees in the temperate zones store these sugars for their winter dormant period.
• Carotenoids, which produce yellow, orange, and brown colors in such things as corn, carrots, and daffodils, as well as rutabagas, buttercups, and bananas.
• Anthocyanins, which give color to such familiar things as cranberries, red apples, concord grapes, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and plums. They are water soluble and appear in the watery liquid of leaf cells.
Both chlorophyll and carotenoids are present in the chloroplasts of leaf cells throughout the growing season. Most anthocyanins are produced in the autumn, in response to bright light and excess plant sugars within leaf cells