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why do trees shed leaves in winter

In and,
deciduous, including, and perennials, are those that lose all of their for part of the year. This process is called. In some cases leaf loss coincides with winternamely in or. In other parts of the world, including tropical, subtropical, and arid regions, plants lose their leaves during the or other seasons, depending on variations in. The converse of deciduous is, where foliage is shed on a different schedule from deciduous trees, therefore appearing to remain green year round. Plants that are intermediate may be called ; they lose old foliage as new growth begins. Other plants are semi-evergreen and lose their leaves before the next growing season, retaining some during winter or dry periods. Some trees, including a few species of, have desiccated leaves that remain on the tree through winter; these dry persistent leaves are called leaves and are dropped in the spring as new growth begins. Many deciduous plants during the period when they are leafless, as this increases the effectiveness of. The absence of improves wind transmission of pollen for wind-pollinated plants and increases the visibility of the flowers to in insect-pollinated plants. This strategy is not without risks, as the flowers can be damaged by frost or, in dry season regions, result in water stress on the plant. Nevertheless, there is much less branch and trunk breakage from glaze ice storms when leafless, and plants can reduce water loss due to the reduction in availability of liquid water during cold winter days.


Leaf drop or involves complex physiological signals and changes within plants. The process of photosynthesis steadily degrades the supply of chlorophylls in foliage; plants normally replenish chlorophylls during the summer months. When arrives and the days are shorter or when plants are drought-stressed, deciduous trees decrease chlorophyll pigment production, allowing other pigments present in the leaf to become apparent, resulting in non-green colored foliage. The brightest leaf colors are produced when days grow short and nights are cool, but remain above freezing. These other pigments include that are yellow, brown, and orange. pigments produce red and purple colors, though they are not always present in the leaves. Rather, they are produced in the foliage in late summer, when sugars are trapped in the leaves after the process of abscission begins. Parts of the world that have showy displays of bright autumn colors are limited to locations where days become short and nights are cool. In other parts of the world, the leaves of deciduous trees simply fall off without turning the bright colors produced from the accumulation of anthocyanin pigments. The beginnings of leaf drop starts when an abscission layer is formed between the leaf and the stem.


This layer is formed in the spring during active new growth of the leaf; it consists of layers of cells that can separate from each other. The cells are sensitive to a called that is produced by the leaf and other parts of the plant. When auxin coming from the leaf is produced at a rate consistent with that from the body of the plant, the cells of the abscission layer remain connected; in autumn, or when under stress, the auxin flow from the leaf decreases or stops, triggering cellular elongation within the abscission layer. The elongation of these cells break the connection between the different cell layers, allowing the leaf to break away from the plant. It also forms a layer that seals the break, so the plant does not lose sap. A number of deciduous plants remove nitrogen and carbon from the before they are shed and store them in the form of proteins in the vacuoles of cells in the roots and the inner bark. In the spring, these proteins are used as a nitrogen source during the growth of new leaves or flowers. Deciduous shed their leaves, usually as an adaptation to a cold or dry/wet season. Evergreen trees do lose leaves, but each tree loses its leaves gradually and not all at once. Most plants are considered to be evergreens, replacing their leaves gradually throughout the year as the leaves age and fall, whereas species growing in seasonally arid climates may be either evergreen or deciduous.


Most warm plants are also evergreen. In cool temperate climates, fewer plants are evergreen, with a predominance of, as few evergreen plants can below about 26P`C (15P`F). In areas where there is a reason for being deciduous (e. g. , a cold season or dry season), being evergreen is usually an adaptation to low nutrient levels. Deciduous trees lose nutrients whenever they lose their leaves. In warmer areas, species such as some and grow on poor soils and disturbed ground. In, a genus with many broadleaf evergreens, several species grow in mature forests but are usually found on highly acidic soil where the nutrients are less available to plants. In or, it is too cold for the to decay rapidly, so the nutrients in the soil are less easily available to plants, thus favouring evergreens. In temperate climates, evergreens can reinforce their own survival; evergreen leaf and needle litter has a higher carbon-nitrogen ratio than deciduous leaf litter, contributing to a higher soil acidity and lower soil nitrogen content. These conditions favour the growth of more evergreens and make it more difficult for deciduous plants to persist. In addition, the shelter provided by existing evergreen plants can make it easier for younger evergreen plants to survive cold and/or drought.

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