Karl Foord - Extension Educator, Horticulture
The fall leaf color spectacular is alive and well this year, due to a warm fall and clear sunny skys.
I was curious about the variation in colors coming from one tree. The tree in question is Autumn Blaze Maple (Acer x freemanii) 'Jeffersred'. The variation in color is due to where the leaf was located on the tree and how exposed the leaf was to light. Bright light permits the leaf to produce significant amounts of sugars which are needed for anthocyanin (red pigment) production. Thus more light more red color. Another contributor to the color palate are carotenoid pigments providing orange and yellow. The various combinations give the leaves their variation in color.
Consider the following photos and see how many different colors exist in these fall leaves.
The next surprise was the beauty of the underside of the leaves not only in terms of color and color contrast, but also because of the architecture of the leaf veins. Consider these photos and the colors we don't see on the upper surface of the leaves.
Enjoy the color of this fall. Because the weather has such a strong effect on leaf color we cannot expect to see the same colors next year.