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Gold Rush: Indian Summer fires up autumn spectacular

[Friday 22 September 2006]

GOLD may be set to reach an all-time high in many parts of Britain according to tree experts as they predict a stunning autumn ahead with reds, yellows and golds galore.

autumn trees
Spectacular shades of autumn

The Woodland Trust and Forestry Commission are predicting multi-coloured spectacular this year following our wet August and the hot, dry start to September.

Nick Collinson from the Woodland Trust says: "If this sunny September continues we can look forward to a spectacular autumn with a range of colours from fiery reds to vivid golds.

"The wet autumn has revived trees suffering from July's drought and an Indian Summer with warm sunny days and cool dry nights provides just the right conditions for some stunning October colours."

During summer the leaves are packed with chlorophyll, which turns sunlight into sugars - plant food - and this makes the leaves appear green, say experts at the Forestry Commission.

However, once the tree shuts down as it prepares for winter, the chlorophyll is withdrawn and other chemicals take over - carotenoids, anthocyanins and tannins - which make the leaves appear yellow, red and gold.

autumn beech leaves
Golden leaves of the Beech tree

Beech and maple, which have more anthocyanin have red leaves in autumn while hazel and birch have more carotene and yellow autumn leaves.

The intensity of the colour in the leaves is controlled by how concentrated the stored sugar is. The more concentrated the sugar, the better the colours and after a hot, dry September with cool nights, the sugar is particularly concentrated and we get the benefit in a spectacular autumn.

For more information and ideas of where to see colourful trees this autumn, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/autumn

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