PS: PM Dawn? Don’t mind if I do!
The Science of Color in Autumn Leaves from the United States National Arboretum is such an excellent explanation of the science behind the magic of Michigan’s fall color show that I try and share it every year:
The process that starts the cascade of events that result in fall color is actually a growth process. In late summer or early autumn, the days begin to get shorter, and nights are longer. Like most plants, deciduous trees and shrubs are rather sensitive to length of the dark period each day. When nights reach a threshold value and are long enough, the cells near the juncture of the leaf and the stem divide rapidly, but they do not expand. This abscission layer is a corky layer of cells that slowly begins to block transport of materials such as carbohydrates from the leaf to the branch. It also blocks the flow of minerals from the roots into the leaves. Because the starting time of the whole process is dependent on night length, fall colors appear at about the same time each year in a given location, whether temperatures are cooler or warmer than normal.
During the growing season, chlorophyll is replaced constantly in the leaves. Chlorophyll breaks down with exposure to light in the same way that colored paper fades in sunlight. The leaves must manufacture new chlorophyll to replace chlorophyll that is lost in this way. In autumn, when the connection between the leaf and the rest of the plant begins to be blocked off, the production of chlorophyll slows and then stops. In a relatively short time period, the chlorophyll disappears completely.
This is when autumn colors are revealed. Chlorophyll normally masks the yellow pigments known as xanthophylls and the orange pigments called carotenoids — both then become visible when the green chlorophyll is gone. These colors are present in the leaf throughout the growing season. Red and purple pigments come from anthocyanins. In the fall anthocyanins are manufactured from the sugars that are trapped in the leaf. In most plants anthocyanins are typically not present during the growing season.
As autumn progresses, the cells in the abscission layer become more dry and corky. The connections between cells become weakened, and the leaves break off with time. Many trees and shrubs lose their leaves when they are still very colorful. Some plants retain a great deal of their foliage through much of the winter, but the leaves do not retain their color for long. Like chlorophyll, the other pigments eventually break down in light or when they are frozen. The only pigments that remain are tannins, which are brown.
The explain that because the starting time of the whole process is dependent on night length, fall colors appear at more or less the same time every year and are not overly dependent on temperature, rainfall or other factors, other than the fact that weather can shorten or prolong the show by stripping leaves from trees.
Tons more fall photos on Michigan in Pictures!
Glints of yellow, orange and red are starting to pop up around the state, so it’s probably time to get some fall wallpaper for your computer! Check that link for a ton and get fall color reports and color touring ideas from the Pure Michigan Fall Color page!
The Carp River, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, flows through predominantly forested lands with little development along its way. Spring’s high water provides for canoeing and offers steelhead fishing and dipping for smelt near the river’s mouth. Summer is the time for brook or brown trout, and fall brings salmon fishing. The Carp is known for its outstanding recreation, wildlife, geologic, ecological, fisheries and heritage resource values. The river flows through the Mackinac Wilderness Area.
Michigan has 16 nationally designated Wild & Scenic Rivers – get them all at that link!
Since I shared something from the first day of fall, it seems only fitting that I share something from the last day of summer! Here’s a stunning sunrise over West Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City by my friend John!
Click the pic to view it background bigilicious and get more from John, including professional portraits at jrwpix.com!
The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives, but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can’t but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully looking forward to the year that is approaching.
Happy second day of fall everyone. I’m usually pretty good about marking that seasonal stuff, but in my defense, I DID eat some puffballs the day before yesterday and marked a few today.
In case you’re interested in exploring edible, wild mushrooms, the giant puffball is considered one of the “Foolproof Four” – widespread and easy to identify mushrooms. Mushroom Appreciation’s page on Giant Puffball mushrooms has lots of pictures, puffball facts, and identification tips and says (in part):
Giant puffballs are saprotrophs, meaning they feed on dead organic matter. They’re more likely found in meadows and grasslands than in the forest. They are always found growing on the ground rather than up in trees.
Giant puffballs are aptly named. They are usually quite large, reaching soccer ball size or bigger. They usually have a circumference (distance around) of 4 to 30 inches, although larger ones are not uncommon. There is no distinct cap and stem with these mushrooms; instead they exist as just large, white globes. They may not be perfectly round. Giant puffballs are white with firm white flesh inside. If they appear yellowish or brown is means that the mushroom is about to/has gone to spore, and is not edible anymore.
…Correct identification is crucial. If you think you’ve found a giant puffball the first thing to do is cut it open. It should have thick, hard, white flesh inside. Don’t eat anything with a brown, black, purple, or yellow interior. It may be an earthball (Scleroderma citrinum) or some other gastric distress inducing mushroom.
This white flesh should be solid with no gills. If you see any evidence of gills disregard immediately. Some species, including the deadly Amanita, have a “universal veil” of tissue that surrounds the mushroom when young. This can make it look like a puffball.
Inexperienced hunters should check with someone knowledgeable if they think they’ve found a giant puffball. An incorrect guess can kill if it turns out to be an Aminita! Please be careful.
If you do find a giant puffball, here’s a recipe from the Mycological Society of San Francisco’s excellent page on Puffballs from Hope Miller, coauthor of the book Mushrooms in Color.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- About 1 pound puffballs, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 egg, slightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter or more if needed
- 2 tablespoons oil or more if needed
Mix the salt with the flour. Dip the mushroom slices in the flour, then in the egg, and last, in the cheese. Melt the butter and oil in a sauté pan or skillet and sauté the mushrooms slowly until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve at once.
OK. I can do that.
Bill took this photo 21 years ago on September 21, 1995! It shows the Star Line Ferry’s Nicolet speeding past the Round Island Lighthouse. Star Line explains:
Star Line Ferry was started by Tom Pfeiffelmann, Sam McIntire, and others in the late 1970s. They purchased Argosy Boat Line. The company was then renamed Star Line after the 5 original stockholders making up a 5 pointed star. At that time they operated slower ferries including the Nicolet, Treasure Islander and Flamingo.
In 1979 Star Line bought their first fast ferry, Marquette. Over the next few years the old LaSalle and Nicolet were replaced with sisters to the Marquette. In 1987 Star Line decided to take it up a notch with Radisson, an 85-foot fast ferry which was modeled after a luxury yacht.
PS: Check out this cool yesterday and today at Round Island Lighthouse on Michigan in Pictures!