How do purple leafed plants and trees photosynthesize? Is there just enough chlorophyll to process the energy or does the anthocyenin do the work?
You are correct about anthocyanins being present in the purple-leafed plants. Actually, they are present in varying amounts in most deciduous trees, at least in the temperate zones. Purple-leafed and red-leafed trees have greater amounts of anthocyanin. However, they still have substantial amounts of chlorophyl, too.
The leaf color is normally green because that is the overall wavelength of light that is reflected from the leaf surface. Chorophyl absorbs in the reds and yellows, and to some extent in the blue range. It generally reflects green. Anthocyanins absorb more of the green wavelengths and reflect more red and blue. Carotene and tanin compounds also figure into this combination, along with some other pigments. So when you see a purple-leafed tree, you know it has relatively higher levels of anthocyanin that masks the green associated with chlorophyl.
There is an exception to this. There are some plants that have white patches on their leaves. Tri-color dogwood and Dragon’s Eye Japanese red pine are examples. In those areas there is relatively little chlorophyl present.
In my experience, the plants that show red or purple throughout the growing season tend to be a little more susceptible to environmental stress or insect or disease attack, although this is not necessarily true in every case, even within a species or cultivar.
Read the article on Autumn Coloration in the Technical Reports section of this web site. Technical Reports
I hope this answers your question.
Russ Carlson, RCA, BCMA
Yes, it does. Thank you. I have a prunus cericifera var. St. Luke that was planted here in central Florida a couple of years ago in April. Recently, I discovered a greenish lichen-like fungus growing up the trunk from the ground. The tree is in full sun. I'm pretty sure the tree has been planted too deep.
Can I re-plant it at the correct height right about now with hopes of it surviving? What can I spray the fungus with? I am on a very high water table here. I really want to save this tree.
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