Every fall the treetops in Topeka turn beautiful hues of yellow, red and orange. Believe it or not, this is somewhat unique to areas that actually have fall weather.

Growing up in Texas sometimes the trees in my front yard didn’t change color and lose their leaves until January. The changing of the leaves is one of the most brilliant aspects of fall, but have you ever wondered why the leaves change color?

Jamie Kidd, a Shawnee County Extension Horticulture Agent, explained to me the science behind the changing leaves.

When the days are warm and sunny, followed by cool nights when temperatures fall below 45 degrees Fahrenheit but not freezing, result in the bright red colors.

Days with a lot of sun increase photosynthesis, increasing sugar accumulation in the leaves. The tree’s metabolism slows down on cool nights and slows the movement of the sugars within the leaves. Throughout fall, the trees naturally develop a layer of callous that begins to seal off the leaf from the tree. When the sugars are trapped within the leaf, higher sugar concentration results in a more vibrant color. Cloudy days and warm nights result in less sugar accumulation and the hues are not as vibrant.

The length of the time the leaves stay on the tree is weather dependent as well. The trees lose leaves after frosts and freezing temperatures. Trees finish preparation for winter by sealing off the leaves and then they fall to the ground.

Sometimes the thought of raking and bagging all of those colorful leaves can be daunting, but you can also have fun! I fondly remember jumping in huge piles of leaves while my dad took my picture. There are also crafts kids can use leaves to make. Check out this pin on our Pinterest page about art with leaves.

For more fall-inspired crafts visit our TopekaBOO board on Pinterest.

Want to see great fall color? Check out our great outdoors.