RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh, the City of Oaks, has turned to yellows, oranges, and reds as oak trees peak in their fall colors.
Maples, black gums, sumacs, and other trees are also reaching their peak colors this week.
The colors change every year about the same time as the trees shut down in preparation for the harsh winter months ahead.
Three main chemicals in leaves are responsible for the color change – chlorophyll, carotenoids, and anthocyanins.
Chlorophyll is responsible for the green color of the leaves, and as we get into fall, chlorophyll dissolves and reveals the other colors that are actually always present in the leaves just hidden by the bright green chlorophyll creates.
The carotenoids create the yellow and orange colors while the anthocyanins produce the red and purple colors.
Both chemicals help in the photosynthesis process which is no longer required as trees prepare for winter.
The mixing of these two chemicals by the leaf as they are discarded result in the vibrant colors we see.
Recent wind and rain have brought down some of the leaves, but many trees are still retaining their colors for another week or so.
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