What Happens To A Tree In Winter?
There is something beautiful about Christmas pine trees, especially when you see one standing next to a dreary, naked maple tree. What do pines do in winter that maples aren’t doing? Why is it that some types of trees seem to die in winter, while others stay full and fragrant? Keep reading to find out what happens to Canada’s trees in the wintertime.
Trees Need To Sleep, Too!
Just like some animals, trees enter a state of hibernation once temperatures start to drop. During this time, the tree’s metabolism is lowered, its water consumption slows, and sap – the tree’s bodily fluids, basically – is circulated to fewer extremities.
Trees get their food from a combination of two sources: their roots and their foliage. The roots absorb nutrients and water from the earth, while the foliage takes in carbon dioxide from the air as well as energy from sunlight.
What’s The Deal With Chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll, the chemical that causes green pigment in leaves and needles, begins to break down once the tree detects the days have gotten shorter. Likewise, winters are usually dry and cold, so the roots can’t drink up as much water as they can in the spring. Hibernation is these trees’ best option for survival.
As any slow-moving lizard or slumbering bear could tell you, it is very difficult to eat and sleep at the same time! Leaves don’t serve a purpose to trees that have entered hibernation. Because of how slow everything inside the tree is moving, the food stored within the tree has no reason to get pushed up to the leaves, causing them to change colour, die, and fall off onto the ground.
Pines and Needles
Have you ever wondered why some trees drop their leaves, but others stay fully dressed? Evergreen trees are called such because, for the most part, their needles stay attached and green all year. Different types of pine trees have different needle lengths, but all needles have a wax-like coating to help them retain water. These trees are experts of self-preservation. Because they don’t shed leaves, they don’t have to expend energy to regrow them.
If your kids’ favourite backyard tree is looking down and out this winter, don’t worry. Once the sun starts warming the earth again, everything should “spring” back to life.