While scientists understand why the leaves on trees turn yellow and orange in the fall, they DON’T understand why some of them turn red, but they do know that it can be a sign of danger for the tree.

Cory Binns writes in LiveScience.com that leaves stop producing chlorophyll in response to colder weather and less daylight. Chlorophyll is what they use to create energy out of sunlight, but this substance is sensitive to cold temperatures. The orange and gold colors have been there all the time, UNDERNEATH the green?they just aren’t revealed until the green disappears.

However, the red hues are actually produced in the fall. They help the tree by acting as a kind of antifreeze. They also act as an antioxidant, protecting the leaves from too much sunlight. But just as in the human world, in the plant world red can be a signal of distress, and sometimes when leaves turn red it means the tree is in danger of dying.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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