Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall Foliage, or the Lack Thereof

The high temperature in St. Louis today should be about 63 degrees, so this is the first day that it really feels like autumn. It only took a full month to get here. Anyway, late October is usually a great time to go hiking in local forests, in order to look at the wonderful fall foliage. This year, however, things are not looking so great. Here it is, the 22nd of October, and most of the trees around where I live are still totally green. My tree in my front yard is going a little bit red, and one of the trees on the top of the hill behind my house is a nice orange/red, but that is it. What happened to my fall? Will it not occur until mid-November? Or is it going to be one of those years where I wake up one day and all of the leaves will have died and fallen overnight? I would blame global warming for this, but I have no idea if that would be factually correct. So, instead, I will use my standard environmental bogeyman and blame El NiƱo.

1 comment:

Hal said...

While El Nino is probably the most plausable reason, I think I will cast my vote for the record lack of rainfall in the midwest this year. This lack of rainfall causes trees to store their choroohyll (energy) longer in the year. A chemical called chlorophyll helps make photosynthesis happen. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their green color. As summer ends and autumn comes, the days get shorter and shorter. This is how the trees "know" to begin getting ready for winter.

During winter, there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. The trees will rest, and live off the food they stored during the summer. They begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow and orange colors. Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along. We just can't see them in the summer, because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll.

On second thought, I think it's just that damn El Nino, which is Spanish for 'The' Nino!