I wrote a blog post about ginkgo trees almost three* years ago. I just had to revisit the topic. Every year I’m amazed at the fantastic colors of gold, yellow and deep orange that decorate the neighborhoods of my town. The leaves fall to the ground slowly like confetti and leave the sidewalk looking so festive.
The science behind why green leaves turn magical colors has to do with pigments. Everything in our world has pigment, a substance that produces the colors we see. The chlorophyll pigment=green colored plants. During most of the year, chlorophyll is dominant and masks other pigments also found in the leaves. When the days get shorter and temperatures are cool, chlorophyll production slows, and the green pigment left in the leaves breaks down and disappears. Time for the other pigments to take the stage! The first pigments to appear are carotene and xanthophyll which cause the yellow, orange and golden hues.
Please take some time to breathe in deep the autumn air and enjoy the colors of fall. If the leaves are already gone, I hope you have lots of good memories of time spent raking fall leaves, playing in fall leaves, or admiring walking through fall leaves.
Whenever I spot leaves such as the ones in this photo, it makes me remember a story I heard on PBS told by Leo Buscaglia. During fall he took a walk and admired the beautiful leaves. He thought to himself “What a pity they were raked up and put into bags and tossed away!” He felt inspired to find a way to enjoy the leaves longer, so one day he took the bags of the leaves from his front yard and dumped them on his living room floor. He sat down in a chair and smiled, admiring his handiwork. I believe his wife walked into the room and was shocked…I can’t remember if she went along with it or not, but I sure hope she did.
*You can read about it here.