Red anthocyanin is plant antifreeze
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When winter gets old, it's nice to have some new growth to admire. Thing is, red in this new foliage is not only beautiful, it's protection against icy chill.
It's a flush of chemical craftiness
Young rose foliage is gorgeous. See the deep red? That comes
from a concentration of chemicals called anthocyanins, which are
protection against cold. This emerging rose leaf can handle a great
deal more cold than one on the flowering branch (below) that
developed in warm weather and is all-green.
Other plants develop maroon in leaves, buds and even twigs in
spring and fall. Now that you know about it, you can watch for it
and admire those plants for their clever ways.
Right: Like this photo? You
can buy it!
Below: There's enough red in a rose petal to melt a
gardener's heart, but its summer chemical mix is not such a
powerful antifreeze as what makes the spring foliage