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Why are the young leaves of many plants red?


The red color is due to pigments called anthocyanins. This is the same kind of pigment found in red cabbage, blueberries, black berries, violets, and many other plants. In young leaves, the excess anthocyanin acts as sun screen, absorbing ultraviolet light and the blue/green end of the visible spectrum to prevent the tender, fresh growth from being "burned" by too much light.