What causes the phenomenon of fall foliage?
As chlorophyll, the green pigment in leaves, is destroyed, other pigments create a variety of colors in fall foliage. Red and purple leaves indicate the presence of anthocyanins. Yellow results from xanthophylls, yellow to gold pigments always present in leaves but masked by chlorophyll. Orange comes from carotene and xanthophylls. Brown indicates the presence of tannins. The brilliance of color, or lack thereof, in any given fall season is influenced by several factors, including each plant’s genetic makeup. Red maples, oaks, burning bushes, and ashes produce the most stunning colors. Cool, sunny fall days are best for foliage color, but conditions early in the growing season also have an effect. Hot, dry spring weather is usually not good, nor is excessive moisture in early spring.