Monday, October 20, 2008

How many leaves change color?

I remember trying to count the number of falling leaves in my back yard on an autumn day and quickly losing count when even a gentle breeze came along. It was an exercise in futility and, looking back, probably not very useful. The Nashua Telegraph, however, did go to the trouble of estimating how many leaves change color in NH (608 billion!).

So I wonder how many leaves change color in Vermont? Since NH and VT forests are similar, I'll just borrow the article's estimate of .73 tons of leaves per acre.

Now I just need some statistics about deciduous (or hardwood) acreage in Vermont. The Vermont Division of Forestry's publication, The Forests of the Green Mountain State, states:

Northern hardwoods,specifically, the northern hardwoods forest-type group, accounts for 67 percent of Vermont’s 4,628,900 acres of forest land.

Nice. That comes out to 3,101,363 acres of colorful foliage, which is 2.26 million tons of leaves. So at one tenth of an ounce per leaf, Vermont has 724 billion leaves that change color.

No wonder I couldn't count them all.

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