Painted Leaves

May 29 2014 after the rain 008

We were told a story, when I was a child, about a mythical character who came out on autumn nights to paint all of the green leaves in bright colors.

His name was Jack Frost. 

May 25, 2014 garden 024

 

In picture books he was shown as a little elf carrying pots of paint and a huge paintbrush.

 

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He painted all of the green leaves so they turned bright yellow and orange, scarlet and gold.

 

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This, or course, was an attempt to communicate to a very young child the scientific understanding of how frost, or freezing temperatures, causes green leaves to change colors.

 

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Years later, I learned that frost killed off the chloroplasts, and thus the chlorophyll which gave leaves their green tint.

Once the chlorophyll was killed by the cold, the true color of the leaf was revealed.

 

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But what of these gorgeous leaves?

 

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They open in kaleidoscopic colors.

 

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Looks like Jack Frost has already painted each leaf as a perfect masterpiece of line, color, and form.

 

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But these  leaves are dressed in their summer finery.  No frost has touched them.

 

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Their brilliant pigments are able to carry on photosynthesis, and sustain the life of the plant, with a minimum of green.

Are they using different wavelengths of light?

 

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What a beautiful mystery.

 

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

6 responses to “Painted Leaves

  1. A truly spectacular collection!

  2. Beautiful colors in all your pictures! I love the caladiums 🙂 We got rain yesterday late and it rained all night. rain gauge showed 1.6 inches of rain!!! Have a great weekend 🙂

  3. Thanks for the lesson, Teach! 🙂

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