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Friday, November 4, 2011

Smarter than the weather channel crew

Perhaps that's not much to be proud of, being smarter than the weather channel crew, but there it is. I am and I can prove it. Okay, maybe I can't prove it, but I sure as heck don't believe them to be right. These are my thoughts on the matter at hand, the matter being the color-changing foliage of autumn.



Some bare trees, some still green

Every year someone asks why leaves change color and invariably some genius on the weather channel says it's the lack of light, the days growing shorter which trigger the trees to start the leaf shedding process. I believe Raymond Alexander Kukkee of Incoming Bytes fame, would agree. To that I say, "Oh, really?"


This is my swamp maple, of which you've recently heard far too much about already, but you shall now hear even more. I apologize in advance. Well, this particular tree starts turning red at the very top most  leaves in August. That's almost a full two months before Autumn officially starts. Yes, the days are growing shorter, but they started growing shorter on the first day of SUMMER. That is the longest day of the year, so logically every day after the longest day will be a bit shorter. On this point we must all agree.

If indeed it is the shrinking of daylight time which triggers the foliage color change, than we would see the fading of green at summer's beginning. Some of my trees-- the late to leaf out Catalpa and Rose of Sharon being the most obvious ones-- are barely leafed out for the fourth of July. So, they should start preparing for the loss of foliage almost before they sprout???
Why bother? Winter is here!
I say it is the cooler temperatures which trigger my trees to think, "Oh, no! Summer's over. Let's kick it into overdrive." How can I say this? Because in the Pocono Mountains August gets pretty darn cool, some years downright cold, cold enough even for frost. Yes, we've had frost in August.

Some years there is not much of an autumn show of color due to the cold temperatures which make some trees drop their leaves while they are still green. It's that nasty frost that really does it! Zaps all life out of everything.

This year, we've been extremely lucky. At the end of October we still have loads of trees not only with mostly all of their foliage but some have not even colored much at all! We have had no hard frost and the nightly temperatures dip down into the forties. At this time of year, we can usually expect to have had several killing frosts, a freeze or two and nightly temperatures well into the thirties, perhaps even twenties.

So, you will forgive me for not taking what the brilliant geniuses over at the weather channel have to say about trees and why they change color in autumn. I'd much prefer to listen to what my trees tell me, thank you very much!

** Addendum**
Okay, so we had a snow storm which knocked the power out for millions of folks all along the east coast and further inland last weekend. I wrote this post way before that happened, you see. It's back to a cold normal in the Poconos. Ah, well...I'll tell you about that too!

1 comment:

  1. Well, Glory, Poconos weather, bad snowstorms or not, it's always best to listen to your trees. We still have cherry trees with green leaves. I think you're right! Hours of daylight might be a partial factor, but it IS more likely the temperature; more logically, it is also affected by the nutritional requirement of each individual tree? The leaves feed the root system (the chlorophyll-sunlight thing) maybe when the leaves get cold, the 'light conversion' isn't as effective, so nature does what she does, and saves that food immediately if not sooner. The factory shuts down, feeding the roots for the dormant period--for the greater good of the tree.
    It all depends on what the zeitgeist tells it to do--and the red colour of the leaves, well, that's from all the exercise....they just plain fall off when they run out of energy, period. There, now we have it figured out! ":)))

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