Ever notice some trees despite how cold winter may get never seem to lose their leaves?

It is something that you wouldn't exactly call common, but it does happen to some trees in New York. Typically, the trees you'll see holding on to their leaves despite the foliage being dead are juvenile trees or young trees. For one reason or another, one of the most prevalent trees in the Adirondacks also just can't seem to shake its leave in winter either, young or not.

While the tree won't exactly keep all of its leaves, rather just a small portion, it is odd to see any leaves on a tree come in late January. It is happening among Beech trees, which in the Adirondacks are everywhere.

Marcescence

NYS DEC
NYS DEC
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What does Marcesence mean?

Marcescent - Withering without falling off. - Merriam Webster

While that may be what the process is called, what is the real reason this happens in some trees? This is actually where it gets tricky, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation actually can only speculate. The DEC itself isn't totally sure what causes this to happen.

Young handsome man over isolated background confuse and wonder about question. Uncertain with doubt, thinking with hand on head. Pensive concept.
AaronAmat
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Let's Speculate For A Moment

  • Hiding buds could help protect them from deer browse.

While deer browse seems harmless, it can be harmful to a youthful tree. The term literally means leaves or twigs from a tree be gathered for food by a deer. It can be harmful when a deer will gather and its antlers mark up the base of the tree, removing bark in many instances. The tree doesn't drop leaves, no harm will be done.

  • Leaf drop in the spring helps keep the tree’s soil moist and provides extra nutrients for growth.

This certainly could make sense, if it waits to drop its leaves in spring, which is inevitable should leave stay on, the ground will flourish with fresh nutrients. At the end of the day, the reason isn't exactly something we can be sure about. Northern Woodlands speculated the above but also dives into a few more reasons here. But, if you see trees with leaves in winter, now you know why.

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