ELI5: Why are the fall colors in America more intense than in most europeen countries, i.e. Germany?

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The color of the leaves depend on a few factors. One is the type of tree. Different trees contain different chemicals, which react differently. Another big component is the weather. New England is great for “leaf peeping” as they call it because the temperature swings so much in the fall. It is not uncommon to have a 75F degree day but at night it gets down to 50F. This temperature swing activates the chemicals in the tree. The tree gets the signal to prepare for winter, so it stops pumping out chlorophyll, which is what makes the leaves green. This allows the other colors to come out, and the colder the night temperatures the better the color, as long as you don’t get frost. Since New England will get a solid month or so of these temperature swings beginning in September, the result is a brightly colored forest around early October.


I live in the blue ridge mountains and we’re supposed to have great colors this year. It has to do with the types of trees that are native to this area and the weather that year. Trees need to have low enough temperatures to stop making chlorophyll and reveal beautiful colors. Too late in the year or too cold or too moist or too dry and they just shrivel and fall off.


I think comparing with the whole Europe is not fair either. I live in The Netherlands but I am from Spain and the colours of the trees indeed are different in both countries. Unfortunately I can’t compare with the US because I’ve never been there but I guess it is also not fair comparing Germany with the whole US since it’s huge. I’m sure depending on the region you have different climate conditions and different vegetation which will make different colours as well Edit: for clarification of NL. Sorry about that!


The US has 2 brilliant fall trees not native to Europe: the sugar maple ( *Acer saccharum)* and the black gum (*Nyssa Sylvatica)* that provide gorgeous colors of red and orange that make New England so famous. The red maple (*Acer Rubrum*) also provides brilliant reds to the landscape. The Norway maple (*Acer platanoides)* turns a lovely amber, but is not as bright. Oak trees with a few exceptions turn brown and are not as attractive. In the European cities, the London planetree (*Platanus x acerifolia)* dominates. Its leaves turn brown and papery in the fall.


I feel you. Here in the UK autumn is grey and dull. The question has been adequately answered but I would also argue that a slight influence is the wetter weather here in this northerly part of Europe. It’s rare to see our fall foliage dry and crisp like it so often is in parts of the US.