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In the fields of
horticulture Horticulture is the art of cultivating plants in gardens to produce food and medicinal ingredients, or for comfort and ornamental purposes. Horticulturists grow flowers, fruits and nuts, vegetables and herbs, as well as ornamental trees and lawns. ...
and
botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancient Greek wo ...

botany
, the term ''deciduous'' (; ) means "falling off at maturity" and "tending to fall off", in reference to
tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only wood plants with se ...

tree
s and
shrub A shrub (or bush, but this is more of a gardening term) is a small- to medium-sized perennial woody plant. Unlike herbaceous plants, shrubs have persistent woody stems above the ground. Shrubs can be deciduous or evergreen. They are distingu ...

shrub
s that seasonally shed
leaves A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant plant stem, stem, usually borne above ground and specialized for photosynthesis. The leaves, stem, flower and fruit together form the shoot system. Leaves are ...

leaves
, usually in the
autumn Autumn, also known as fall in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Curr ...
; to the shedding of
petal upright=1.4, Diagram showing the parts of a mature flower. In this example the perianth is separated into a calyx (sepals) and corolla (petals) Petals are modified leaves that surround the reproductive parts of flower A flower, sometimes ...

petal
s, after flowering; and to the shedding of ripe
fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means by which angiosperms disseminate seeds. Edible fruits, in particular, have propa ...

fruit
. The
antonym In lexical semantics Lexical semantics (also known as lexicosemantics), is a subfield of linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
of ''deciduous'' in the botanical sense is
evergreen In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Anci ...

evergreen
. Generally, the term "deciduous" means "the dropping of a part that is no longer needed or useful" and the "falling away after its purpose is finished". In plants, it is the result of natural processes. "Deciduous" has a similar meaning when referring to animal parts, such as deciduous
antler Antlers are extensions of an animal's skull found in members of the deer family. Antlers are a single structure composed of bone, cartilage, fibrous tissue, skin, nerves, and blood vessels. They are generally found only on males, with the exc ...
s in
deer Deer or true deer are hoofed ruminant Ruminants are herbivorous mammals of the suborder Ruminantia that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by Enteric fermentation, fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, ...
,
deciduous teeth Deciduous teeth or primary teeth, also informally known as baby teeth, milk teeth, or temporary teeth,Illustrated Dental Embryology, Histology, and Anatomy, Bath-Balogh and Fehrenbach, Elsevier, 2011, page 255 are the first set of teeth in the ...
(baby teeth) in some mammals (including humans); or
decidua The decidua is the modified mucosal lining of the uterus The uterus (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ar ...
, the uterine lining that sheds off after birth.


Botany

In
botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancient Greek wo ...

botany
and
horticulture Horticulture is the art of cultivating plants in gardens to produce food and medicinal ingredients, or for comfort and ornamental purposes. Horticulturists grow flowers, fruits and nuts, vegetables and herbs, as well as ornamental trees and lawns. ...
, deciduous
plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and included algae and fungi; however, all current definitions o ...

plant
s, including
tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only wood plants with se ...

tree
s,
shrub A shrub (or bush, but this is more of a gardening term) is a small- to medium-sized perennial woody plant. Unlike herbaceous plants, shrubs have persistent woody stems above the ground. Shrubs can be deciduous or evergreen. They are distingu ...

shrub
s and
herbaceous Herbaceous plants are vascular plants that have no persistent woody stems above ground, including many perennials, and nearly all annuals and biennial Biennial means (an event) lasting for two years or occurring every two years. The related te ...
perennials, are those that lose all of their
leaves A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant plant stem, stem, usually borne above ground and specialized for photosynthesis. The leaves, stem, flower and fruit together form the shoot system. Leaves are ...

leaves
for part of the year. This process is called
abscission Abscission (from Latin ''ab'', "away", and ''scindere'', "to cut'") is the shedding of various parts of an organism, such as a plant dropping a leaf, fruit, flower, or seed. In zoology, abscission is the intentional shedding of a body part, such a ...
. In some cases leaf loss coincides with winter—namely in
temperate In geography, the temperate climates of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continent A continent is one ...
or
polar climate. The polar climate regions are characterized by a lack of warm summers. Every month in a polar climate has an average temperature of less than . Regions with polar climate cover more than 20% of the Earth's area. Most of these regions are far f ...
s. In other parts of the world, including tropical, subtropical, and arid regions, plants lose their leaves during the
dry season The dry season is a yearly period of low rainfall, especially in the tropics The tropics are the region of Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at N and the Tropi ...
or other seasons, depending on variations in
rain Rain is liquid water in the form of drop (liquid), droplets that have condensation, condensed from atmosphere, atmospheric water vapor and then precipitation (meteorology), become heavy enough to fall under gravity. Rain is a major component ...

rain
fall. The converse of deciduous is
evergreen In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Anci ...

evergreen
, where foliage is shed on a different schedule from deciduous plants, therefore appearing to remain green year round because not all the leaves are shed at the same time. Plants that are intermediate may be called
semi-deciduousSemi-deciduous or semi-evergreen is a botanical term which refers to plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not ...
; 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. Many deciduous plants
flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproduction, reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The biological function of a flower is to facilitate reproduct ...

flower
during the period when they are leafless, as this increases the effectiveness of
pollination Pollination is the transfer of pollen from an anther (male part) of a plant to the stigma (female part) of a plant, later enabling fertilisation and the production of seeds, most often by an animal or by Anemophily, wind. Pollinating agents are a ...

pollination
. The absence of
leaves A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant plant stem, stem, usually borne above ground and specialized for photosynthesis. The leaves, stem, flower and fruit together form the shoot system. Leaves are ...

leaves
improves wind transmission of pollen for wind-pollinated plants and increases the visibility of the flowers to
insect Insects (from Latin ') are pancrustacean Hexapoda, hexapod invertebrates of the class (biology), class Insecta. They are the largest group within the arthropod phylum. Insects have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body (head, Thorax (inse ...

insect
s 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. The conditions that trigger leaf out or leaf flushing in spring can vary depending on the species or genera of plant. Most herbaceous perennials and some woody plants are triggered to leaf out by warming air or soil temperatures, for example birches (''
Betula A birch is a thin-leaved deciduous hardwood tree of the genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such c ...

Betula
'') and willows (''
Salix Willows, also called sallows and osiers, form the genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classific ...

Salix
'') will attempt to send out flowers or leaves if there are a few days where ambient air temperatures exceed . This strategy is risky as a renewed burst of cold air may freeze off the new growth. Other woody plants such as oaks, walnuts, and hickories leaf out based on photoperiod, meaning they wait until the day length is long enough. These tend to be plants that have frost-intolerant foliage, so leaf out is held off until late spring when the danger of frost has largely passed. Leaf drop in the fall months is based on photoperiod and varies by genera and species. Walnuts tend to drop their leaves early while some trees such as
Norway Maple ''Acer platanoides'', commonly known as the Norway maple, is a species of maple ''Acer'' is a genus of Tree, trees and Shrub, shrubs commonly known as maples. The genus is placed in the family Sapindaceae. There are approximately 132 species ...

Norway Maple
and willows have extremely late leaf drop, often in the middle of November. Leaf drop or
abscission Abscission (from Latin ''ab'', "away", and ''scindere'', "to cut'") is the shedding of various parts of an organism, such as a plant dropping a leaf, fruit, flower, or seed. In zoology, abscission is the intentional shedding of a body part, such a ...
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
autumn Autumn, also known as fall in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Curr ...
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
carotenoid Carotenoids (), also called tetraterpenoids, are yellow, orange, and red organic compound, organic pigments that are produced by plants and algae, as well as several bacteria, and fungi. Carotenoids give the characteristic color to pumpkins, carro ...
s that are yellow, brown, and orange.
Anthocyanin Anthocyanins (also anthocyans; from Greek: (''anthos'') "flower" and / ''kyaneos/kyanous'' "dark blue") are water-soluble vacuolar pigments that, depending on their pH, may appear red, purple, blue or black. Food plants rich in anthocyanins ...
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
petiole Petiole may refer to: *Petiole (botany), the stalk of a leaf, attaching the blade to the stem *Petiole (insect anatomy), the narrow waist of some hymenopteran insects {{disambiguation ...
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
plant hormone Plant hormones (also known as phytohormones) are signal molecules, produced within plants, that occur in extremely low concentrations. Plant hormones control all aspects of plant growth and development, from embryogenesis, the regulation of Organ ...
called
auxin Auxins (plural of auxin ) are a class of plant hormone Plant hormones (also known as phytohormones) are signal molecules, produced within plants, that occur in extremely low concentrations. Plant hormones control all aspects of plant growth and ...

auxin
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. Some trees, particularly oaks and beeches, exhibit a behavior known as "marcescence" whereby dead leaves are not shed in the fall and remain on the tree until being blown off by the weather. This is caused by incomplete development of the abscission layer. It is mainly seen in the seedling and sapling stage, although mature trees may have marcescence of leaves on the lower branches. A number of deciduous plants remove nitrogen and carbon from the
foliage A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant stem, usually borne above ground and specialized for photosynthesis Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light en ...

foliage
before they are shed and store them in the form of proteins in the vacuoles of
parenchyma Parenchyma () is the bulk of functional substance in an animal organ or structure such as a tumour. In zoology Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is typically regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biolo ...

parenchyma
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.


Function

Plants with deciduous foliage have advantages and disadvantages compared to plants with evergreen foliage. Since deciduous plants lose their leaves to conserve water or to better survive winter weather conditions, they must regrow new foliage during the next suitable growing season; this uses resources which evergreens do not need to expend. Evergreens suffer greater water loss during the winter and they also can experience greater predation pressure, especially when small. Deciduous trees experience 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. Losing leaves in winter may reduce damage from insects; repairing leaves and keeping them functional may be more costly than just losing and regrowing them. Removing leaves also reduces
cavitation Cavitation is a phenomenon in which the static pressure of the liquid reduces to below the liquid's vapour pressure, leading to the formation of small vapor-filled cavities in the liquid. When subjected to higher pressure, these cavities, ...
which can damage
xylem Xylem is one of the two types of transport tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of similar cells that together carry out a specific function * ''Triphosa haesitata'', a species of geometer moth found in North Amer ...

xylem
vessels in plants. This then allows deciduous plants to have xylem vessels with larger diameters and therefore a greater rate of
transpiration in a tomato The tomato is the edible berry of the plant ''Solanum lycopersicum'', commonly known as a tomato plant. The species originated in western South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere ...

transpiration
(and hence CO2 uptake as this occurs when
stomata In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes ...

stomata
are open) during the summer growth period.


Deciduous woody plants

The deciduous characteristic has developed repeatedly among woody plants. Trees include
maple ''Acer'' is a genus of Tree, trees and Shrub, shrubs commonly known as maples. The genus is placed in the family Sapindaceae. There are approximately 132 species, most of which are native to Asia, with a number also appearing in Europe, northern ...

maple
, many
oak An oak is a tree or shrub A shrub (or bush, but this is more of a gardening term) is a small- to medium-sized perennial woody plant. Unlike herbaceous plants, shrubs have persistent woody stems above the ground. Shrubs can be deciduous o ...

oak
s and
nothofagus Beech trees in New Zealand ''Nothofagus'', also known as the southern beeches, is a genus of 43 species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a ...

nothofagus
,
elm Elms are deciduous In the fields of horticulture and botany, the term ''deciduous'' (; ) means "falling off at maturity" and "tending to fall off", in reference to trees and shrubs that seasonally shed leaves, usually in the autumn; to t ...

elm
,
beech Beech (''Fagus'') is a genus of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia, and North America. Recent classifications recognize 10 to 13 species in two distinct subgenera, ''Engleriana'' and ''Fagus''. The ''Engler ...
,
aspen Aspen is a common name for certain tree species; some, but not all, are classified by botanists in the section Section, Sectioning or Sectioned may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media * Section (music), a complete, but not independent, ...
, and
birch A birch is a thin-leaved deciduous hardwood tree of the genus ''Betula'' (), in the family Betulaceae, which also includes alders, hazels, and hornbeams. It is closely related to the beech-oak family Fagaceae. The genus ''Betula'' contains 30 to ...
, among others, as well as a number of
conifer Conifers are a group of conifer cone, cone-bearing Spermatophyte, seed plants, a subset of gymnosperms. Scientifically, they make up the phylum, division Pinophyta (), also known as Coniferophyta () or Coniferae. The division contains a single ex ...
ous
genera Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also ref ...
, such as
larch Larches are deciduous conifers in the genus ''Larix'', of the family Pinaceae (subfamily Laricoideae). Growing from tall, they are native to much of the cooler temperate northern hemisphere, on lowlands in the north and high on mountains further ...

larch
and ''
Metasequoia ''Metasequoia'', or dawn redwoods, is a genus of fast-growing deciduous trees, one of three species of pinophyta, conifers known as redwoods. The living species ''Metasequoia glyptostroboides'' is native to Lichuan, Hubei, Lichuan county in Hubei ...

Metasequoia
''. Deciduous shrubs include
honeysuckle Honeysuckles (''Lonicera'', ; syn. ''Caprifolium'' Mill.) are arching shrub A shrub (or bush, but this is more of a gardening term) is a small- to medium-sized perennial woody plant. Unlike herbaceous plants, shrubs have persistent wood ...

honeysuckle
,
viburnum ''Viburnum'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to ...

viburnum
, and many others. Most temperate woody vines are also deciduous, including
grape A grape is a fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means by which angiosperms disseminate seeds. Edible fruits, in ...

grape
s,
poison ivy
poison ivy
,
Virginia creeper
Virginia creeper
,
wisteria ''Wisteria'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to ...

wisteria
, etc. The characteristic is useful in plant identification; for instance in parts of
Southern California Southern California (popularly known as SoCal; es, Sur de California) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the southern portion of the U.S. state of California. It includes the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the second mo ...

Southern California
and the
American Southeast The southeastern United States, also referred to as the American Southeast or simply the Southeast, is broadly the eastern portion of the southern United States The southern United States, also known as the American South, the southern st ...
, deciduous and
evergreen oak Live oak or evergreen oak is any of a number of oaks in several different sections of the genus ''Quercus'' that share the characteristic of evergreen foliage. These oaks are not more closely related to each other than they are to other oaks. ...
species may grow side by side. Periods of leaf fall often coincide with seasons: winter in the case of cool-climate plants or the dry-season in the case of tropical plants, however there are no deciduous species among tree-like
monocotyledonous Monocotyledons (), commonly referred to as monocots, (Lilianae Lilianae (also known as Liliiflorae) is a botanical name for a superorder (that is, a rank higher than that of order) of flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Ang ...
plants, e.g. palms,
yucca ''Yucca'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a s ...

yucca
s, and dracaenas. The
hydrangea hirta ''Hydrangea hirta'', also known as the "nettle-leaved hydrangea", is an species of flowering plant in the family Hydrangeaceae that is native to East Asia. Due to the beauty and sturdiness of the species' flowers it can be found outside of its ran ...
is a deciduous woody shrub found in
Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat = Golden circle subdiv ...

Japan
.


Regions

Forests where a majority of the trees lose their foliage at the end of the typical growing season are called deciduous forests. These forests are found in many areas worldwide and have distinctive ecosystems, understory growth, and
soil File:Stagnogley.JPG, Surface-water-Gley soil, gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support life. Earth's body of soil, called the pedosphere ...

soil
dynamics. Two distinctive types of deciduous forest are found growing around the world.
Temperate deciduous forestTemperate deciduous or temperate broad-leaf forests are a variety of temperate forest 'dominated' by trees that lose their leaves each year. They are found in areas with warm moist summers and cool winters. The six major areas of this forest ...
biomes are plant communities distributed in North and South America, Asia, Southern slopes of the Himalayas, Europe and for cultivation purposes in Oceania. They have formed under climatic conditions which have great seasonable temperature variability with growth occurring during warm summers and leaf drop in autumn and dormancy during cold winters. These seasonally distinctive communities have diverse life forms that are impacted greatly by the seasonality of their climate, mainly temperature and precipitation rates. These varying and regionally different ecological conditions produce distinctive forest plant communities in different regions. Tropical and subtropical deciduous forest biomes have developed in response not to seasonal temperature variations but to seasonal rainfall patterns. During prolonged dry periods the foliage is dropped to conserve water and prevent death from drought. Leaf drop is not seasonally dependent as it is in temperate climates, and can occur any time of year and varies by region of the world. Even within a small local area there can be variations in the timing and duration of leaf drop; different sides of the same mountain and areas that have high water tables or areas along streams and rivers can produce a patchwork of leafy and leafless trees. File:Chacachacare dry forest 3.JPG, alt=Aerial view of tropical deciduous trees, Dry-season deciduous
tropical forest Tropical forests are forested landscapes in tropical The tropics are the region of Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the S ...

tropical forest
File:Spring Forest Leaves in Texas Hill Country.jpg, alt=View of treetops with light spring growth scattered amid darker evergreens, Mixed tropical and subtropical deciduous forest in spring,
Texas Texas (, ) is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. It is the second largest U.S. state by both List of U.S. states and territories by area, area (after Alaska) and List of U.S. states and ter ...

Texas
, United States


See also

*
Evergreen In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Anci ...

Evergreen
* Semi-evergreen / semi-deciduous *
Marcescence Image:oakmer.JPG, Oak with marcescent foliage Marcescence is the retention of dead plant organs that normally are shed. Trees transfer water and sap from the roots to the leaves through their vascular cells, but in some trees as autumn begins, the ...


References


External links

* * {{Authority control Botany Periodic phenomena Autumn Winter