It all starts with sugar.
Let me explain by first taking you on an imaginary trip to a winery. You're standing in a tasting room with some friends, sipping a bit of sweet dessert wine, maybe a Reisling or a
Now consider what happens to certain leaves in the fall. Their moisture content drops, concentrating the sugars and increasing the acid content. When the sugar concentration is high enough, the sugar and certain plant proteins in the cell sap react in the presence of sunlight to produce anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are plant pigments and can be either red or purple, depending on how much acid is present. They're what make apples red or plums purple.
In the fall, we don't see too many plants with red leaves in our local parks and open spaces. The one exception is poison oak, which, as you can see from the photo, turns a vivid red. I spotted plenty of poison oak in the creek bed while hiking recently in
One more thing - I recommend you don't pick the leaves to make a festive fall bouquet. Like dessert wine, poison oak is potent in its own way.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to www.LAMountains.com .
To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to http://www.hometownstation.com/ or tune in to AM 1220.