Tis the season of Autumn, a perfect time for a drive to the country, or take a walk and enjoy the colours and change of season as the air gets cooler and we see changes from green leaves to red, orange, yellow and gold. If you have a garden, don't just sweep up the leaves and dump them in the bin, but use them for mulch, fertiliser, compost, potting mix, a habitat for wildlife and pets, or bring them inside your home to create a gorgeous table setting.
If you ever wondered about the colour of leaves, there is always a scientific explanation for why they go from green to the brilliant autumn colours. Leaves get their colours from pigments made up of various size, colour-creating molecules.
During the warm and sunny months, plants use their leaves to turn sunlight into food energy, a process called photosynthesis.
In autumn when the days are colder and shorter, deciduous trees no longer make food energy with their leaves and consequently no longer need the green pigment known as chlorophyll. The leaves' other pigments, some of which were already there during summer, then become visible.
When ingested, green vegetables are a source of folate and have anti-cancer properties. However colourful pigments take more time to
break down than chlorophyll does, and offer a range of different phytonutrients. Xanthophylls are yellow pigments, and carotenoids give leaves an orange colour. When we eat orange fruits and vegetables, the carotenoids, betacarotene in particular, gets turned into vitamin A. They're found in carrots, daffodils, bananas and other plants that have these vibrant colours. There are also anthocyanins, intense red pigments that aren't made during the summer, only appearing with the final group of the autumn colours. These molecules also give the red hue to apples, cranberries, strawberries and more and help to prevent against a whole range of human diseases.
Enjoy autumn & its produce with this handy list to to print & pop on your fridge through the season!
With autumnal colours & warmth,