Why the leaves change color and other fall leaf facts you may not know

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Summer is now in the rearview mirror… and while Mother Nature has been giving us August heat lately, there’s another tell-tale sign that fall is here… and that’s the leaves changing.

We’ve already been enjoying the leaves changing for a few weeks. Depending on where you live, you may have a little time before you’re at your peak. We all typically peak by the end of October here in North Dakota. But have you ever wondered why leaves change colors in the first place?

With the shorter daylight time and the cooler temperatures, chlorophyll – or the green color – breaks down revealing the fall colors underneath. The green in the leaf comes from the plant making its own food. It stops that process this time of year with less daylight and cooler temperatures. This basically means the leaves are dying… and that morbidity brings onlookers from around the country to certain areas that get extra vibrant. Brighter colors are more likely when late summer is dry and fall has sunny days and cool nights. Most trees shed their leaves once they’ve turned. Those leaves then fall to the ground and become nourishment to the tree it fell from.

A ton of leaves can fall from a tree… literally. Here are a few leaf facts you may not know. The average number of leaves on a mature oak tree is 200-thousand. Roughly 360 dry leaves weigh one pound,
and one tree has roughly 550 pounds of leaves. Multiply that by four when the leaves are wet!

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