October is here and the air finally feels like autumn. The smell of cinnamon and freshly bakes apples is continually in the air and the leaves are turning beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. Fall is my favorite season in upstate New York.
My children are now old enough to question why the leaves change and eventually tumble to the ground. So for our Get Outside Like Minna this month, we decided to go for a walk and collect leaves.
In preparation for this leaf walk, I did a little research. Leaves change color as the chlorophyll and pigment inside of them lessens as the growing season progresses. It is actually similar to what happens to people’s hair as they grow older.
This loss happens as a result of the change in daylight hours. As the days become shorter and the nights longer, plants have to adjust their cycles and prepare to become dormant in the winter. The leaves changing and falling is the outward sign of this aging and ecentually dying process for the tree. This dying process is called senescence.
Now it is just so cool to me how much we have common with trees. Just as two humans of the same age don’t turn grey at the same time, the same scenario occurs with trees too. Even though trees might live in the same region, or even the same park, a lot of factors go into when one tree’s leaves start to change. According to the North Carolina Cooperative Exstention, the “amount of light and shade they get at their particular location, health of the individuals, or even the amount of cloud cover during a season” can accelerate or slow down the color changing process.
So here is your GOLM for the month!
Autumn Leaf Walk
Supplies: Notebook, paper and camera (if you would like to take pictures of really interesting trees!)
- Find an area with a lot of trees.
- As you walk notice which trees are further along in the senescence than others.
- Take a moment and try to determine what factor might cause this tree to be further along in the proces of senscense or less? Does it get more sun, is it in the shade, does it get a lot of rain?
- Keep a log of your observations.
- Return to the trees to see how long it takes for their leaves to change and fall to the ground.
- Once the leaves have fallen, you can collect a leaf and keep it as a sample. It might be fun to return to the tree next year and see if it follows the same timeline as it did this year!
If you find any really cool colors on your walk, take a picture and leave it in the comments below!
Until next time, Get Outside Like Minna!
Want to learn about a woman who loved nature so much that she created and maintained her own nature trail? Click here to get your own copy of Minna Anthony Commons’s biography! It is perfect for children and adults of all ages!