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Why Do Tree Leaves Turn Colors In The Fall?

To enjoy the changing colors of the trees, one need not travel to New England. Fall in the Mother Lode is awash in reds and gold’s at this time of year. But why do leaves change color?

U.C. Riverside horticulture expert Dennis Pittenger said changing colors in leaves doesn´t have to do with temperature getting colder in the fall, but it does depend on days getting shorter.

“As the days become shorter, the chlorophyll or the traditional green color in the leaves – the pigment becomes broken down and is not replaced by the plant,” Pittenger said.

“What that does is unmask the other pigments that have been there all along.” It is this that provides the yellows and bright reds and purples we see, Pittenger said.

While California doesn´t have the large stands of maple and other hardwoods that produce color displays like in the east coast, there are some trees in the area that do put on a good show.

Liquid Amber, Chinese Pistachio and a few others put out a bright red color in there leaves. Other tree species, such as plum and flowering pear, offer a mix of reds and oranges, as well, Pittenger explained.

Just something to ponder while raking fall leaves in your yard.