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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 are agriculturists who grow flowers, fruits and nuts, vegetables and herbs, as well as or ...
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 (often called a bush) is a small- to medium-sized perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the p ...

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 ...

autumn
; 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 A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the ...

petal
s, after flowering; and to the shedding of ripe
fruit 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 ...

fruit
. The
antonym In lexical semantics Lexical semantics (also known as lexicosemantics), as 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 fo ...
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 Anc ...

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 Deer or true deer are ed s forming the Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the , including the , the (wapiti), the , and the ; and the , including the ( ...

antler
s in
deer Deer or true deer are ed s forming the Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the , including the , the (wapiti), the , and the ; and the , including the (caribou), , the , and the . Male deer of all species (except the Chinese ) as we ...

deer
,
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 in the grow ...
(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 are agriculturists who grow flowers, fruits and nuts, vegetables and herbs, as well as or ...
, deciduous
plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel ...

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 (often called a bush) is a small- to medium-sized perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the p ...

shrub
s and
herbaceous Herbaceous plants are vascular plants that have no persistent wood, woody stems above ground, including many perennial plant, perennials, and nearly all Annual plant, annuals and Biennial plant, biennials. Definitions of "herb" and "herbaceous" ...
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 Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use ...
or
polar climate . The polar climate regions are characterized by a lack of warm summer Summer is the hottest of the four temperate In geography, the temperate climates of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astro ...
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 weather in the tropics is dominated by the tropical rain belt, which moves from the northern to the southern tropics and back over the course of the year. Rain ...
or other seasons, depending on variations in
rain Rain is liquid water in the form of droplet Raindrops in a plant. A drop or droplet is a small column of liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechani ...

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 Anc ...

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 Image:Cerisier du Japon Prunus serrulata.jpg, Cherry blossoms in Paris in full bloom. In botany, blossoms are the flowers of stone fruit fruit tree, trees (genus ''Prunus'') and of some other plan ...

flower
during the period when they are leafless, as this increases the effectiveness of
pollination Pollination is the transfer of pollen Pollen is a powdery substance consisting of pollen grains which are Sporophyte, microsporophytes of spermatophyta, seed plants, which produce male gametes (sperm cells). Pollen grains have a hard coat ...

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 Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Rom ...

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 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, frui ...

Betula
'') and willows (''
Salix Willows, also called sallows and osiers, from the genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classifica ...

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 Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living a ...

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 ...

autumn
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 Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Organ ...
s that are yellow, brown, and orange.
Anthocyanin Anthocyanins (also anthocyans; from Ancient Greek, Greek: (''anthos'') "flower" and / ''kyaneos/kyanous'' "dark blue") are solubility, water-soluble vacuole, vacuolar pigments that, depending on their pH, may appear red, purple, blue or black. F ...

Anthocyanin
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 (or phytohormones) are signal molecule In biology, cell signaling (cell signalling in British English), or cell-cell communication, governs the basic activities of cell (biology), cells and coordinates multiple-cell actions. A sig ...
called
auxin Auxins (plural of auxin ) are a class of plant hormone Plant hormones (or phytohormones) are signal molecule In biology, cell signaling (cell signalling in British English), or cell-cell communication, governs the basic activities of cell (bio ...

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 Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia artē ...

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 in s, the other being . The basic function of xylem is to transport from roots to stems and leaves, but it also transports . The word ''xylem'' is derived from the word (''xylon''), meaning "wood"; ...

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 File:LeafUndersideWithStomata.jpg, The underside of a leaf. In this species (''Tradescantia zebrina'') the guard cells of the stomata are green because they contain chlorophyll while the epidermal cells are chlorophyll-free and contain red pigme ...

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 Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscr ...

maple
, many
oak An oak is a 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 on ...

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 and s comprising the genus ''Ulmus'' in the plant family . The genus first appeared in the about 20 million years ago, originating in what is now central Asia.Richens, R. H. (1983). ''Elm''. Cambridge University Press. These tree ...

elm
,
beech Beech (''Fagus'') is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classification, v ...

beech
,
aspen Aspen is a common name for certain tree species; some, but not all, are classified by botanists in the section (botany), section Populus sect. Populus, ''Populus'', of the ''Populus'' genus. Species These species are called aspens: *''Populus ...

aspen
, 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 ...

birch
, 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 In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying gr ...
, such as
larch Larches are deciduous 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, v ...

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 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 ...

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 (sometimes 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 California is a in the . With over 39.3million resi ...

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 (botany), rank higher than that of order (biology), order) of flowering plants. Such a super ...
plants, e.g.
palms
palms
,
yucca ''Yucca'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their an ...

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 Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

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 Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ;"title="glacial till, Northern Ireland">glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms tha ...

soil
dynamics. Two distinctive types of deciduous forest are found growing around the world.
Temperate deciduous forest#REDIRECT 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 s ...
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 The tropics are the region of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is ...

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 (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, ...

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 Anc ...

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