Development of fall foliage color in sugar maple
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In: The Tree 2000. Isabelle Quentin Ed. IQ Press, Montreal: 356-360.
Fall foliage development is important to tourism and culture in the Northeast. However, few data exist on the control of the timing and brilliance of fall color. In this study, leaf tissue from 16 sugar maples (Acer saccharum) was collected periodically from June 30 through October 27, 1999 and analyzed for foliar nutrient, moisture and carbohydrate content, and the extent of color development. Data were analyzed to determine which, if any, parameters were significantly predictive of the timing and quality of fall coloration. Concentrations of moisture, nitrogen and xylose on June 30 were significantly positively correlated with the time to coloration, while concentrations of starch were significantly negatively correlated with the time to coloration (p ≤ 0.05). Concentrations of nitrogen throughout the growing season were significantly negatively correlated with the subsequent quality of fall coloration (p ≤ 0.05), while the opposite relationship was exhibited by starch. Patterns in the relationships between fall coloration and these parameters substantiate literature and anecdotal accounts that suggest stress may promote anthocyanin production and premature senescence. Although further research is required to determine the true causal influences on timing and quality, these identified parameters appear to be useful in the prediction of fall coloration.
Van den Berg, Abby K.; Donnelly, John R.; Murakami, Paula F.; Schaberg, Paul G. 2001. Development of fall foliage color in sugar maple. In: The Tree 2000. Isabelle Quentin Ed. IQ Press, Montreal: 356-360.