I love this post for its images, and I love this paragraph (below) that’s part of it, for two reasons. One, the vision of plants as intelligent beings responsive to conditions. But even more, for the reminder that what we see as “the world” is really the world-as-we-see-it: our filters, in this case visual ones. Our brains are in front of our experience just like chlorophyll is in front of other pigments. It would be lovely if every autumn, as greens give way to oranges and reds, the limitations of our perception also fell away to reveal whatever is lurking behind.
Anyway, here’s that paragraph I like:
“Chlorophyll, though, is an energy-intensive molecule to produce, so as the Earth gets to that point in its annual trip around the sun where our northern hemisphere is tilting away from the sun and Virginians start experiencing shorter days of autumn, the energy demanded by manufacturing chlorophyll exceeds the solar energy that can be absorbed and converted into sugar, so deciduous plants start cutting their losses by curtailing chlorophyll production. As that green curtain then begins to dissipate, from behind it emerge two other pigments that also have been present throughout the summer but in lower concentrations, carotenes and xanthophylls. Xanthophylls reflect the yellows of the electromagnetic spectrum, while beta-carotene, a carotenoid, reflects red and yellow wavelengths, which most human brains will perceive as an orangey color.”