Kyle N. Cheesborough
Fall is in full swing at Bellefontaine Cemetery, and the diverse mix of deciduous trees is putting on quite a show. As the days begin to shorten, and the temperatures drop, chlorophyll – the structure within a leaf responsible for capturing light and creating energy – begins to die off. This allows other cells present within the leaves of a plant shine through. Many of these cells reflect a variety of colors, as opposed to the green color given off by chlorophyll cells. The result is an array of color from yellow to red, and orange to purple.
Some trees reveal mostly cells that reflect yellow (like sugar maple, or persimmon), while others will reflect mostly red (Sassafras). Trees like sweetgum or ash can have up to four colors on one tree! As the fall season progresses, some trees begin to show their hidden colors quickly, while others wait to put on a show. Right now, maples, sassafras, tulip trees, and hickories are spectacular, and soon the oaks will begin to show their mix of purples and reds, with a few yellows. Dogwoods are finishing their season – and will soon drop their leaves entirely – since the food-manufacturing chlorophyll has vanished until spring.
As a bonus, the Judy Waters Iris Collection at Bellefontaine Cemetery features a handful of re-blooming (remontant) species, with splendid scents to accompany their flamboyant flowers!
compiled by Cara L. Cocker