"England is hideous in fall." — No one I want to know
Forget everything you know about the U.K.
OK, maybe not everything. Just hear me out.
Sure, it rains there (sometimes a lot). And the average mean temperature is a measly 53 degrees Fahrenheit (give or take).
But! You're missing out if you think England's a cold, wet wasteland all the time. Because autumn across the pond...
...is freaking gorgeous.
And while English autumns may seem like they look exactly like autumn in North America...
There's actually one (very) big difference.
Can you spot it?
The trees! You'll see lots more red in North America. And while red leaves do exist in England, their trees overwhelmingly feature more shades of yellow and orange.
Why is that exactly? Well, a a study done in 2009 suggests the answer dates back about 35 million years.
The study found that ice ages affected the evolution of deciduous trees in North America differently than in Europe.
Europe's mountain chain configurations stopped animals and insects from migrating away from the cold, unlike in North America. So plenty of species were killed off.
Trees in North America, however, evolved throughout the years to protect themselves from many of the species that had died in Europe (like, say, insect predators).
So … what's that have to do with North America's red leaves?
Red leaves are red because of a certain pigment produced only in cooler months, called anthocyanin.
Orange and yellow leaves, however, aren't produced by some special pigment. They're on deciduous trees all year long, and only pop when chlorophyll on green leaves breaks down during the cooler months.
It's believed anthocyanin (the red pigment) may protect trees from things like super-cold freezes, harsh sunlight, and — yep, you guessed it — insect predators.
So, as one theory goes, North America gets redder leaves because its trees evolved with animals and insects that were out to get them all those millions of years ago.
Pretty neat stuff.
This research is explained superbly in a video by Slate, by the way. Check it out.