Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Nature Notes: Color starting at the top

I've started noticing how most trees seemed to start changing colors at the top before the lower ones change.
There's an evergreen on the right hand side of the shot above so I'm only using the tree which fills in most of the shot to illustrate this top to bottom change over.
I can understand why trees often lose top leaves first because of the wind which would explain the one directly above but the wind wouldn't explain the direction of color change.
My largest oak tree won't fit into a shot so with the one above you only see the difference in the very top and middle of the tree but the bottom leaves have barely changed at all yet.
One reason I've probably not noticed this top to bottom color change as much in other years is because when you have a mix of evergreens and different trees like the shot above, there are so many different stages, as well as evergreens that don't lose leaves.
Above the colorful part is one tree and you can see that the lower leaves aren't as far along in the change as the top. The same is true in the next tree with the bottom leaves still being green and the top reaching full color.
From a different perspective the shot below shows how the different trees with green leaves rising above the colored ones would make it easy to miss this phenomenon.
The next shot is another one showing how different trees mixed together can explain why I have missed this top to bottom color change until I started looking for it.
It is getting quiet at the lake with far fewer water birds on the main part than almost any other time, although I am spotting spotting a fair number of ducks and geese in the coves.
I almost didn't recognize the titmouse on my deck below because they look so different when their feathers are fluffed out.
I know that trees start storing more nutrients in their roots during the winter which is part of the process of leaves changing colors and dropping off when day length, temperature and other factors change. But I don't know what explains why top leaves tend to change before lower ones. Please let me know if anyone has an answer to this question because I couldn't find one. Click for the home of nature notes.


DeniseinVA said...

Whatever the reason, I love this time of the year. Lovely shots Carver, they illustrate the changing season well.

Leora said...

I enjoyed looking at your lovely trees late last night on my mobile phone. I finally have the chance to say how pleasing they are, especially the one by the lake.

Good for you for observing the patterns of the leaves changing.

Mildred said...

Can't say why the changes happen in this way but your shots are wonderful!
Thanks for sharing;o)

Hope you are having a fabulous week****

Red Nomad OZ said...

Fantastic colours - they're a long way away downunder in OZ, so it's great to get a fix from the other side of the world!

Love the little bird!!

??? said...

Wonderful photos. My guess would be that the tree begins to shut down transportation of nutrients to the top branches/leaves first, it would be more complicated the other way around.

I'm fairly sure that you were right abut my flower being a coreopsis, by the way, thanks.

Rambling Woods said...

I was going to say I would look that up as it is a good question, but I would guess that Jennifer is right, but I like doing research.. Your area is full and ours is more trees with just branches...Michelle