CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - During the summer, leaves are tree food factories. They contain a chemical called chlorophyll that absorbs energy from sunlight and turns carbon dioxide into carbohydrates. Chlorophyll also makes leaves green.
There are also other things in leaves that give them yellow to orange colors. Chlorophyll wins out though - so the green is what shows up. That's why we have green leaves all summer.
In the fall, the days get shorter… the temperatures get cooler and the leaves stop making food. The chlorophyll breaks down and the green color disappears. That's when the yellows and oranges start to show up. While this is happening, another chemical change gives some leaves red to purple colors. After a while, the leaves begin to fall off of the trees.
The best news is that peak leaf season is on our doorstep! Here is a great map from Appalachian State to give you an idea of how the leaf season should progress.
If you want more current conditions, check out this website. It will give you updates on what different areas currently look like so you don't have to guess before you head for the hills.
Happy leaf looking!