Photo and Story by Oliver Toth,
Tribune Staff writer
Can you name all the different colors of leaves? If you said green, red, orange, yellow, and purple then congratulations, you named all of them. The leaves change color because the temperature drops, and the trees stop making food. The chlorophyll (which is the stuff that makes the leaves green) inside the leaves breaks down and the green vanishes and turns into the purple, yellow and all the colors in between.
Now it is time for the leaves to come off the trees. If the tree can not get enough water then the leaf will get damaged and stop working. It does not want to waste all the rest of its energy on the leaves, instead it takes the nutrients from the leaves and pushes them back to the roots. When the leaves are empty of nutrients the tree stops holding on to the leaves and they blow away in the wind. Once all the leaves are gone the tree uses all the extra nutrients to survive over the winter when resources are scarce.
The trees that drop their leaves every year are called deciduous (Duh-si-joo-hus) trees. These trees lose their leaves because of the season. Deciduous trees are found mostly in places where it snows or gets cold. Some deciduous trees include maple, oak, elm, beech, birch, and aspen trees.