by Davalynn Spencer
|Colorado's aspen groves line highways and mingle|
with evergreen forests. - Author's photo
This coming weekend officially introduces fall to our calendars. Even so, it’s often hard to predict exactly when peak foliage viewing times will be. According to arborists, scientists, and others in the know, catching the colors in their prime is all about chlorophyll and temperatures. And elevation.
|Author's photo of Rocky Mountain color in an early fall snowstorm.|
Colorado’s famous aspen trees and their poorer cousin, the cottonwood (both are in the poplar family), change colors for the same reason other deciduous trees do: photosynthesis decreases as daylight hours lessen in the fall.
Have you noticed in early September that daylight seems to have cut loose and run? That’s because we lose an hour of daylight during the month of August as the earth tilts toward autumn. And we are not the only living beings that feel it.
Technically, the leaves of these trees don’t change from greens to golds – the color range is there all along, like stars in the sky that we can’t see during the day. Yellows, oranges, and reds are merely masked by the green hues until chlorophyll production fades.
Colorado is not the only state to harbor aspen trees, and they thrive in higher, colder regions with cool summers. The trees are often called quaking aspens due to the longer, flatter petiole, or leaf stem, that allows the leaves to flutter in the slightest breeze.
|Aspen leaves "quake" due to their longer leaf stem. -Author's photo.|
Comment to be entered in a drawing: I’d love to hear about a trip you took to see the colors – even if it was just around the block. Those who comment below will be entered in a random drawing for an e-copy of my latest release, Mail-order Misfire, Book 2 of the Thanksgiving Books & Blessings Collection.