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Leaves appear green because of a pigment called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is crucial for the process of photosynthesis, which is how plants produce their own food.
During photosynthesis, chlorophyll absorbs light energy from the sun and uses it to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose (a type of sugar) and oxygen. The green color we see in leaves is the result of chlorophyll absorbing light most efficiently in the blue and red parts of the electromagnetic spectrum while reflecting green light. This reflected green light is what our eyes perceive, making the leaves appear green.
There are other pigments in leaves, such as carotenoids and anthocyanins, which contribute to the overall coloration. Carotenoids, for example, can produce yellow, orange, or red colors. However, the dominant presence of chlorophyll masks these colors during the growing season.
In the fall, as daylight decreases and temperatures drop, chlorophyll production slows down and eventually stops. The chlorophyll breaks down and disappears, revealing the other pigments in the leaves. This is why we see a variety of colors, including reds, yellows, and oranges, in autumn foliage when chlorophyll is no longer the dominant pigment.
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