Why do trees lose leaves in winter

tree without leaves

We all have seen some trees shedding their leaves off during winter. However, a few of us would have tried to know the reason behind it. Before we start unfolding the truth behind the trees shedding their leaves off, it is good to know the type of trees first. There are two main types of trees: evergreen that keep up their foliage throughout the year and deciduous that shed their leaves off during winter.

The process starts as soon as the nights get longer after the summer solstice and trees prepare to cut off the leaves. Deciduous trees release chemicals, ethylene and abscisic acids precisely, to cut the connection between leaves and tree. But before falling, leaves get a wide array of colors ranging from bright yellow to crimson and many shades of orange in between before being shed. The trees remain leafless until the spring when trees put out new leaves to start the process afresh. Listed below are some of the reasons why deciduous trees put their leaves off during winter.

Energy conservation

The process of deciduous trees putting their leaves off is to save energy during dry and cold weather. If trees won’t shed their leaves off, the water in the leaves will freeze thereby forcing the cells in the leaves to eat them from inside using the lysosomes. By dropping leaves, the trees save their water and energy at the trunks and branches that otherwise would have been used to keep the foliage alive. Lack of leaves in trees straightway means trees need less energy to survive and stay healthy.

Protecting the tree

Another reason for deciduous trees shedding their leaves off is to protect themselves from harm. No leaves mean less surface area on which ice and snow can collect and it makes it more wind resistant during the winter storms. The process helps in reducing the weight on the trees and thereby the chances of its branches or tree itself to crack.

Nevertheless, trees shedding leaves have some advantages too. Having deciduous trees around in summers help people cut the cooling costs by 10% whereas in winters (because of no leaves), it enables the sunlight to reach homes and offer more heat. Additionally, when the leaves fall on the ground below a tree, they offer a layer of protective mulch that not only insulates the roots but also helps tree conserve its energy for the new growing season next year.