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Aspens ready to go gold

Aspen Times Staff Report

A Colorado biology professor is predicting an early and brilliant show by the state’s aspen trees this month.

Michael Grant, a professor in the biology department at the University of Colorado in Boulder, says the summer rains and recent evening cooling patterns are conditions that presage breathtaking displays of fall colors in the Rockies.

Grant’s prediction is that the aspens at the higher elevations will turn during the second week of September. Aspens at middle and lower elevations will peak in the third and fourth weeks of the month, he says.

The pigments seen in fall foliage are present through the spring and summer, but are overpowered by the green color of chlorophyll, the chemical that allows the leaves to use sunlight to manufacture food for the tree. When the chlorophyll leaves the leaves, the pigments are able to shine through.

Asked for a second opinion on when the leaves might change, David Clark, a retired botanist who lives in Carbondale, said, “I usually wait and see.”


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