Unmasking Fall Colours
Episode 4 - by Lisa Willemse (click here to directly access the MP3)
Beneath autumn’s colourful display are a trio of pigments - chlorophyll, carotenoid and anthocyanin, and the green, golden and red colours we see is a direct result of their delicate balance. But these colours do more than just delight our eyes, they perform functions that are essential to the tree’s survival. Which one does the major work, which one protects and serves, and which one arrives with all the glory? And exactly what role does the weather play?
More resources on pigments and fall colours:
The New Science of Fall Colours - a Discovery photo essay that presents some interesting new theories why red is the dominant fall colour in parts of North America.
The Process of Leaf Colour Change - this Harvard Forest research study takes you inside the leaf to see where the various pigments are found and depicts the sequence of change.
The Chemistry of Fall Leaves - an interesting look at the chemistry behind autumn colours, as part of the “Chemical of the Week” series at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lisa Willemse is a science communicator with a particular interest in the science found in our everyday lives. She is an alumni of the Banff Science Communications Program and currently works as Director of Communications for the Stem Cell Network in Ottawa.