ISHPEMING — You may have noticed the leaves taking on different colors now that we have official started Fall.
The Marquette and Alger County District Forester shared more about the beautiful process that nature undergoes during the autumn months.
The reason leaves change colors during the fall ties back to plants in general and trees specifically.
“Most plants contain a substance called chlorophyll, which they use to undergo photosynthesis and they do they by absorbing energy from the sunlight and also using carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make their own energy, so it’s a very unique substance” said District Forester, Matt Watkeys.
The length of days and nights play a role as well. As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, we notice the colors changing. Trees have to conserve their energy when it gets colder and they do that by breaking down the chlorophyll.
“Chlorophyll is the substance that gives plants -and trees specifically its green color” said Watkeys. “So as the chlorophyll is broken down and transported to the roots, the other pigments in the leaves become obvious because we lose that green color.”
When trees break down the chlorophyll, they are able to save more nutrients and energy during the fall.
The type of color that a leaf changes -or doesn’t change- has to do with the type of tree that it is.
“Deciduous trees, which we also call hard-wood trees are the ones that lose their leaves in the fall and it’s an adaptation to some of these cold climates as opposed to Coniferous trees, which have needles and are also called evergreens, they stay green all year” said the District Forester.
According to Watkeys, this is around average time for peak color change in the U.P.
Sugarloaf and Marquette Mountain are usually great places to see those color changes in action.
Watkeys’ job as the District Forester is to provide forestry advise, technical assistance and recommendations for land owners in the county.
If you have any questions about the forest or forestry related questions, he can be contacted at 906-226-8871 ext. 126