In the United States, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer.  By now, all the trees have leafed out.  Wildflowers are abundant.  Grasses and sedges are growing tall.  

As you look across the landscape, how many shades of green can you spot?  That is today’s challenge.  

You already know that different concentrations and types of chlorophyll influence the colors we see in plants.  Then there is the whole physics of wavelight absorption.  

Without getting into too much science, there are two types of color produced by plants.  One is a chemical pigment and the other is structural.  Chemical colors are diffuse and look the same from every angle.  This is the chlorophyll’s influence on the pigment. 

Structural colors in plants are often created by variations in thickness.  As a result, the color shifts as the viewer moves.   Structural colors can play a role in the plant’s self-defense to ward away predators. Alternatively, they are used to attract pollinators.  Sometimes they are used to optimally capture the light for photosynthesis.  Plant species have evolved to use color variations to their benefit.  

Now let’s put the knowledge to work.  Grab some watercolors and make a color chart of the different greens that you see.  You can also label which green goes with which type of plant even if you don’t know the specific name of every species.  Just label them in a way that you can identify and revisit them as the season progresses to note changes.  

In many locations, except for heavily landscaped areas, you can select as little as a square foot of land and discover at least three different hues of green.  

Give it a try.  Expand your view and you may find that you can document 20 or more.

This challenge is rated as easy.


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