Tuesday, November 01, 2011

What I have learned is that the red in fall leaves comes from anthocyanins, which is possibly not news. It turns out that the anthocyanins work as a kind of sunscreen, protecting new leaves and autumn leaves from certain kinds of damage and stress. It seems that what they didn't realize until recently is that maybe the soil is sometimes to blame for all the red in the leaves, that trees in poor soil make more red in order to keep the leaves stuck on the trees long enough to store up enough food for the winter. All these trees are becoming vibrant in order to survive.

I don't know if I believe that the secret is all in the soil. Seems like the sky and the rain and the wind are probably involved too. Still, I wouldn't blame you if you started carrying nitrogen around in your pockets, ready to coax the most brilliant colors out wherever you travel.