Colour me happy this autumn
In a recent survey carried out by Forestry Commission England a staggering 96% of people said that beautiful autumn colours improve their mood.
This autumn you can engage your senses and lift your spirits on our fun-filled autumn activity trail.
Follow the free 3km self-led trail from the totem pole near the Cycle Hire Centre and explore the sights, sounds and smells of the forest.
The trail will be available until the end of November 2017.
The Chemistry of Autumn Colours
What makes a maple leaf turn fiery red, a beech become golden or an ironwood transform through a rainbow of colours to deep plum purple?
To help you understand the science behind the forest’s most vibrant season, the Forestry Commission has put together a simple colour guide:
During the spring and summer months, leaves are filled with green chlorophyll which helps trees to harness energy from sunlight to combine water and CO2 and turn it into sugars (plant food).
To survive the winter, most trees will shut down to store their sugars. A cork-like membrane develops between the branch and the leaf stem, depriving the leaves of nutrients and breaking down the chlorophyll and the other coloured chemicals take over.
The yellows of autumn leaves come from xanthophyll pigments and can be seen throughout autumn in a variety of trees including birches, beeches, ashes and field maples. Egg yolks are yellow because of the xanthophyll in plant products, eaten by the hens.
Orange comes from beta carotene – one of the most common compounds in plants. One of the best trees to see carotene in action during autumn is sweet chestnut. Carotene, as its name suggests, is also the chemical responsible for giving carrots their bright orange colour.
The red colour is unlike other leaf colours as it hasn’t always existed in the leaf. The colour is caused by anthrocyanin pigments which are formed by a reaction between sugars and certain proteins in cell sap. If the sap is quite acidic, the pigments impart a bright red colour. If the sap is less acidic, then the resulting colour is purple. Japanese maples produce plenty of anthrocyanins and have very bright red leaves.