As our new school year swings into gear and falling leaves appear, let’s be sure to take every opportunity to learn, even outside our classrooms!
While everyone enjoys watching our summer greenery transform into the bright orange and red hues of autumn, try taking a closer look at the anatomy of our foliage!
Did you know tree leaves have a different life cycle than most plants? They come in various shapes, but they all follow a similar journey due to their role as food manufacturers for their trees. Tree leaves drink in water, sunlight, and air to produce nourishment and in return, their host tree produces chlorophyll, which gives leaves their shades of green.
As we know all too well, with the arrival of autumn comes shorter days and less sunlight. This means less food is available through leaves and in response, the tree saves its resources to make it through the winter by sealing off the nutrient flow to the leaf’s stalk, or petiole.
A leaf’s stalk allows chlorophyll to flow through the midrib of the leaf, through its lateral and sublateral veins which gives a summer leaf its green color. With its stalk severed from the tree, leaves revert back to their natural orange, brown, and yellow hues before eventually detaching from the tree entirely.
So this autumn, grab a sweater and family or friends to come along for a walk, to enjoy the cool evening air, and pick up a few interesting leaves. Back home, break out the crayons and have fun with this simple group activity. Trace the life story of a leaf, and gain some fall decor with leaf printing!
Preserve your findings by placing a leaf under a sheet of paper, and rubbing a crayon over the surface of the leaf to watch its anatomy come to life.
TIP! A dark crayon will produce a clearer print of the leaf.