Pat Shingleton: "Red Leaves..."
Welcome to November and the approach of the end of leaf viewing in the north and northeast. We recently traveled through New York and Pennsylvania enjoying a variety of changing leave. Botanists aren’t sure why leaves turn red but have discovered that the red of the leaf may be a sunscreen or a death threat for hungry insects. Scientists not that leaves break down to prepare for winter. It's a dangerous time for leaves when they lose their green especially when they are exposed to sunlight. Leaf cells are very fragile and when photons from the sun hit the leaves they are absorbed by the red pigmentation. Years ago, experiments in Wisconsin found that the leaf is protected because it is red and keeps producing food into November. Some trees also make poisons that kill aphids and the red leaf deters the insects. Traveling on Corporate Blvd. in Baton Rouge you may notice that many Red Maples hold their leaves well into the New Year.