Leaves change colors

photka/Shutterstock

Why Do Leaves Change Colors?

From green to orange, red and yellow
Leaves change colors

photka/Shutterstock

Every autumn, green summertime leaves turn a burnt orange, red or yellow and fall from the trees. The incredible fall colors make for scenic sweater-weather drives and other romantic adventures.  But why exactly do leaves ditch green for warmer colors starting in September? 

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During spring and summer, when beautiful flowers bloom, tree leaves gain their green color from chlorophyll, a chemical that absorbs energy from sunlight and uses it to transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates to feed the plant. 

During fall, this food-making process stops. The length of daylight and changes in weather are to blame. Chlorophyll breaks down, taking its color with it. Orange and yellow colors, often masked by the chlorophyll’s green coloring, begin to show. 

Other chemicals and pigments mix with chlorophyll residue to form even more colors, like deep purples and reds caused by anthocyanin pigments. When photographed, the resulting stunning fall foliage makes for some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful photos of America

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Whether on a fall day trip or weekend-long getaway, brilliant orange, red, purple and yellow leaves can be seen at some of these best fall foliage spots in every state.