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Leaf Color Patterns in Aging Leaves

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During aging and senescence the leaves of many temperate plants take on amazing patterns of color. This can only be discerned by looking very closely at the leaves. We have taken some very close-up photographs of many of the more common trees that change color at Harvard forest every autumn. You can also see how dramatically different the leaves of many trees and shrubs appear. Click on a picture to see a larger image.

[Close-up of a leaf of the high bush blueberry. In the high bush blueberry, the veins stand out strongly from the blade tissue, and these leaves tend to have a fairly uniform concentration of anthocyanin.] 

[Leaf close-up of the maple-leaf viburnum, showing the extraordinary purple color of these leaves.]

[Many winterberry holly trees tend to retain relatively more chlorophyll in there leaves as they fall off the parent shrub.]

Red Maple Scale 1 Red Maple Scale 2 Red Maple Scale 3 Red Maple Scale 4

Red maple produces extraordinary and contrasting patterns of color on their leaves during the autumn. These color patterns are seen at different scales.

Sugar Maple Scale 1 Sugar Maple Scale 1 Sugar Maple Scale 1 Sugar Maple Scale 1

Sugar maples produce more uniform colors in their leaves, and with more color production than other species.

[The transverse section of a sugar maple leaf at maturity shows no evidence of this pigment being concealed for later discovery.] 

[In the transverse section of a senescing leaf of a red oak, anthocaynins are produced in the palisade cells of the leaf.] 

[In this surface view of a red oak, the fine patterns of anthocyanin pigmentation can be seen by any observer.] 
[This surface section of a red oak leaf reveals the setting sun shining through these leaves.] 
[The leaves of the scarlet oak are particularly attractive and endurable] 

White Oak Close up White Oak Close up 

In white oak, the surface character of the leaf is more subtle and more brick red, than the younger leaves of other plant species.