The color of leaves depend strongly on pigments present. Knowing how much chlorophyll and carotenoid is contained helps to estimate the leaf color. In autumn when it starts to get cold, foliage trees stop making chlorophyll. Instead, those plants break down chlorophyll into smaller molecules. As chlorophyll goes away, other pigments start to show their colors. Anthocyanins are plant pigments that are mainly made in fall, not all trees can make anthocyanin.
The three spectral power distribution curves shown below characterize typical colors of green, yellow and red American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) leaves.

Due to the shape of the leaves the sweetgum tree is also known as star-leaved gum.

The pigment that causes leaves to be green is chlorophyll. Carotenoids create yellows and oranges. Corn, carrots, and bananas are just a few of the many plants colored by carotenoid. Anthocyanins add the color red to plants, including cranberries, red apples, cherries, strawberries and others.

Opticleaf is an external resource that provides an online model to generate spectral power distributions for leaves by defining pigment content. The curves above show wavelength between 400nm and 700nm, generated curves cover wavelength up to 2500nm.

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