Every year we receive several calls from clients asking why their Oak, Hornbeam or Beech trees retain their dried-out leaves over the winter. These dried out leaves are referred to as ‘marcescent’ leaves. There are varying opinions as to why this occurs.
Here is what happens. Early cold Fall weather or frost seems to encourage some trees to hold onto their dried-out Fall leaves. For some trees, especially certain Oaks, clients mention that a particular tree seems to experience this every year.
For most trees, cells release enzymes that unglue the leaf from the tree in the Fall allowing them to fall to the ground. But early cold or frost can interfere with the process on these previously mentioned varieties of trees. Marcescent leaves are more common on smaller trees or on the lower branches of larger trees.
Some believe that this process occurs with trees that are lacking proper nutrients. But we at Tree Green do not believe this to be the case. Why? Because we have clients whose trees we have been feeding every year for 20 to 35 years still experience this situation. We know that there is no possibility that these trees are lacking nutrients when you consider the suspension of rich minerals, nutrients and amino acids that our root fertilization process provides.
When the new tree buds form and begin to swell in the Spring, they will push off last seasons dried leaves as you have experienced in the past. Until that process occurs don’t worry about your tree at all. Just enjoy those rustling brown leaves that seem to be ‘waving’ to us throughout the Winter.