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Why Do Maple Leaves Change Colors?

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on 20 August 2013

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Transcript of Why Do Maple Leaves Change Colors?

Lets explore the wonderful world of leaves..
Phase 1
Phase 2
 
 Here's a little info about the tree we are exploring:
The life-cycle of the Acer Rubrum tree is a deciduous tree that takes about 70-80 years to mature. The Acer Rubrum is polygamo-dioecious tree meaning it can bear only male or only female flowers OR both male and female flowers on the same tree. The Acer Rubrum is one of the first trees to flower in the spring, generally several weeks before vegetative bud break. The flowers are small, with slender stalks, red or yellow with petals; they appear from March to May depending upon elevation and latitude. The trees can flower and bear seed as early as 4 years old. The flowering occurs on all branches in the well-lit upper portion of the crown. The Acer Rubrum flowers are structurally perfect. The flowering seeds produced on the Acer Rubrum are are pollinated by the wind. The tree thrives best when it grows in moist well-drained soil. The suitable pH is acid and neutral soils and can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade and can tolerate atmospheric pollution.
Why do leaves change colors? Hmm...Let's explore the Maple Leaf in Beautiful Vance, South Carolina... WAIT! In order to identify the reasons why leaves change colors throughout their life cycle, it is necessary to explain the entire organism altogether which begins with the tree itself. The tree being explored today is the Acer Rubrum aka maple tree. Let's go..
Leaf color comes from pigments. Pigments are natural substances produced by leaf cells. The three pigments that color leaves have are:
chlorophyll (
green
)
carotenoid (
yellow
,
orange
, and
brown
)
anthocyanin (
red
)
As the Earth makes its 365-day journey around the sun, some parts of the planet will get fewer hours of sunlight at certain times of the year. Days soon become shorter and the nights get longer. The temperature slowly drops and the leaves begin to change... watch this...
Exploring the Maple Leafs Senescence
Now that we know a little more about the tree, how about we now go and explore the natural senescence of the degradation of chloroplast or in simpler terms, the reason why leaves change colors within the Acer Rubrum’s foliage. Follow me...

Why Do leaves change colors?
by
Brandi White

Work Cited:
Walters, R. S., & Yawney, H. W. (2013). Acer rubrum L.. Red Maple. Retrieved August 1, 2013, from na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/acer/rubrum.htm

Steffan, R. (2013). What Is the Origin of the Maple Tree? | eHow. eHow | How to Videos, Articles & More - Discover the expert in you.. Retrieved August 1, 2013, from http://www.ehow.com/info_8053841_origin-maple-tree.html

EEK! - Why Do Leaves Change Color?. (2013). Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved August 2, 2013, from http://dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/eek/veg/trees/treestruecolor.htm

Wildlife, T. P. (Director). (2009). “Why Leaves Change Color (Photosynthesis) - Texas Parks and Wildlife [Official]” [Documentary]. US: Texas Parks Wildlife.

Thanks all for watching!
Since the second week of this course, I have been documenting the maple leaves on the Acer Rubrum tree (Maple Tree). With this I have taken note mainly of the climate, the weather and change in colors of the leaves. Through these weeks, the ground has been mostly wet with only a couple days of a dry heat and dry ground.

Week Two:
Leaves on the trees are a mixture of half green with some that are beginning to show a slight change in color (reds,yellow). Leaves are still strong and thriving. For this week, the weather has been approximately 85 - 91 degrees and extremely humid, sunny with some clouds. Some leaves have already fallen to the ground.
Week Three
This week there has been cloud coverage with some sun shining through. Humidity is almost 100%. Temperature 86- 92 degrees, feel like 104! Leaves are showing more signs of changing colors and more falling to the ground.
Week Four
Mostly sunny this week with lower temperatures in the low 80’s to a high of 88, humidity continues to be extremely high, approximately 90%. I really haven’t noticed much of a change from the previous week with the leaves.
Week Five
A rise in temperature this week, back up in the 90’s, humidity still present 100%. More leaves are changing colors, and more have fallen to the ground.
Week Six
Weather this week is about the same as last week, approximately in the 90’s with high humidity. Many of the leaves have fallen to the ground yet many still remain on the tree with a mixture of leaves green, red and yellow.
Week Seven
What a change in weather! It has been raining most of the week. The weather has dropped to a low 79 during the day, humidity low. More and more of the leaves have fallen to the ground and are now a color of brown. The ones that remain on the tree have changed mostly to red and yellow with some still holding on to their green. I’m guessing within the next month or two, the tree will be quite bare with almost all of the leaves on the ground. The leaves on the tree and ground show all the signs that Autumn is on its way!

Throughout these past weeks, it is apparent that the weather, climate, humidity, sun and cloud coverage all played a part with the leaves and their change in color. Throughout the earlier weeks, the tree had mostly green leaves, this is because they had a great amount of pigment (chlorophyll) still. The green leaves remained due to photosynthesis which converted sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into energy-rich sugars. However as days and weeks passed, the tree began to lose its nutrients because of the climate change, therefore the tree absorbed more nutrients from the leaves giving them the colors of yellow, red and browns.
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