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Why do Leaves Change Color in Autumn?

Have you ever wondered why we see these vibrant shades of red, orange, yellow and gold as the leaves fall nearing the end of the year?

Actually, leaves are one of the most important parts of a vascular plant. Vascular plants use tissues known as the xylem and the phloem to transport water and minerals throughout the plant. The leaves go through a process known as photosynthesis to gain energy and to produce a pigment called chlorophyll, which gives leaves a green color. This process requires a lot of sunlight, which means the best time for plants to absorb energy is spring and summer. When autumn arrives, plants can’t absorb as much sunlight, and chlorophyll production decreases. However, the plants still need energy, so they break down the chlorophyll to try and remove it from their system. During this process, pigments that are only made in the fall start to show. Carotenoids produce yellow, red, and orange in leaves, and anthocyanins produce red, pink, and purple. 

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