The time of year that Keats called the ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, autumn is a season famous for its harvest times, turning leaves, cooling temperatures and darkening nights.
Why leaves turn brown in autumn
One of the most stunning signs of autumn is the turning of the leaves as trees begin to prepare for winter.
During winter there is not enough light for photosynthesis to occur, so as the days shorten throughout autumn, the trees begin to close down their food production systems and reduce the amount of chlorophyll in their leaves.
Chlorophyll is the chemical which makes tree leaves green and as it declines other chemicals (flavonoids, carotenoids and anthocyanins) become more prominent in the leaves. These chemicals are responsible for the vibrant ambers, reds and yellows of autumn.
Squirrels brains expand every year when it is time for them to start burying nuts for the winter, giving them the grey matter it takes to remember where all the nuts are stashed.
People born in Autumn live longer
A study in the Journal of Ageing Research found that babies born during the autumn months are more likely to live to 100 than those born during the rest of the year.
In Greek mythology, autumn began when Persephone was abducted by Hades to be the Queen of the Underworld. In distress Persephone’s mother, Demeter (the goddess of the harvest), caused all the crops on Earth to die until her daughter was allowed to return, marking spring.
Autumn and column are the only common English words ending in ‘umn’.
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