Sunday, 7 November 2010

Autumn Leaves

Today the Autumnal trees are looking splendid at Trentham Lakes.  There is a greater than usual amount of yellow in the leaves as the warmer than usual Autumn days have resulted in an unusual change in colour.
This appears to be the case wherever you look at the broad leaf trees.
Here in Newcastle-under-Lyme the trees are showing the same yellow, rather than brown autumn leaves.  The colour on the ground is not as consistent as some of the earlier leaves to fall were more brown.  Species like Beech and Oak show little change from last years.
The ground fall variation can be seen on the composite photograph above.
A few years ago I did a series of Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) plates to separate out the different photosynthetic pigments in various plant species.  This plate is from the Liriodendron in my garden.  In warm autumns, the breakdown of chlorophylls is more complete and the loss of green and purple pigments makes the leaves more yellow.  Only the Carotenes and Xanthophyll are left, but they are more visible as their colours are not masked by the chlorophyll. At this time of year the leaves are reabsorbing the chlorophylls and transporting the chemicals, along with sugars, into the roots and trunk.  Toxins are being deposited in the leaves as waste, which will be shed when the leaves fall.

This stag hiding in the long grass is probably quite unaware of the concept of photosyntheses and chlorophyll.  He just needs food and warmth and companionship of other Fallow Deer.  Two other young bucks were following at a distance.

1 comment:

Diane said...

You are such a boffin Paul - I'd love a walk with you (but you would bamboozle me with science!!) I have noticed how the colours have been so different this year, but I dont think they will be on the trees for much longer sadly. Great potos and a brilliant post as usual. xxx