The Secret Life Of Deciduous Trees


While the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are starting to drop, the arrival of autumn also signifies a time for change for deciduous trees. 

In Australia, it is autumn in the months of March, April and May. While this time of the year is generally the opposite when compared to the same season in the Northern Hemisphere, the seasonal behaviour is more or less the same. The weather gets cooler in autumn, the sun rises later and sets earlier, and the leaves on many trees start to change colour before falling to the ground.

However, as any avid gardener would know, not all trees drop their leaves at this time of the year. For a select few, the arrival of autumn means a change in their behaviour and growth habits. Unlike evergreens, these types of plants are known as deciduous trees, or those that lose their leaves and become dormant during the winter. 

Although this process is known to be over thousands of years old, why is it only deciduous trees that follow this pattern each year, and what’s the point?

How The Growth Patterns Of Deciduous Trees Work

Evergreen trees, such as our native eucalypts and many conifers, have tough waxy leaves that can withstand the harsh conditions of winter. However, it’s much more difficult for broadleaf trees to keep their leaves healthy in these conditions, so many species don’t even try. 

These broadleaf varieties are known as deciduous trees, or those that shed their leaves each year during the cooler months. For the unfamiliar, leaves convert air and water into sugars using the sun’s energy. This process is known as photosynthesis, and is essential for ensuring that a plant, tree or shrub has the ability to feed itself. 

If there isn’t enough water or sunlight to go around, the leaves can’t perform their usual function and can become damaged. In turn, the once essential leaves can actually become a burden to the plant in question and if faced with the choice, deciduous trees are actually better off without these expensive support organs.

Before they “shed” these same leaves, deciduous trees extract as many nutrients as possible. While phosphorus and nitrogen are usually the most popular items on the menu, these nutrients are then stored in the woody parts of the tree as a means to see them through the winter. The green hue of leaves is the result of chlorophyll, which also goes into storage and results in the autumn colours of red, orange and yellow starting to appear. It’s at this point that deciduous trees quite literally cut their losses, and shed their leaves before the coldest months of the year arrive. 

While many deciduous trees first arrived to Australian shores via early immigration, these types of plants are traditionally native to the northern hemisphere. If you’re a gardener and looking to avoid the annual clean up of falling leaves and bare trees, the solution is to go native. In fact, Australia has just one true temperate deciduous native tree – the deciduous beech or Fagus found in Tasmania, which puts on a stunning autumn display before dropping all its leaves in anticipation of cold winter weather.

Choosing to cultivate a native garden is a way to embrace your climate and form a mini ecosystem. Depending on where you live, plants that are native to our landscape are considered to be relatively easy to grow, and are often already accustomed to the rainfall and soil conditions exclusive to your abode. You’ll also be actively encouraging locals to swing by, such as birds, butterflies and bees – a posse otherwise known as nature’s best pollinators. Ultimately, the more you’re able to encourage a self-sufficient and sustainable ecosystem, the happier your garden will be. However, sometimes your green spaces may need a little extra help in fending off unwanted invaders, but that doesn’t mean resorting to pesticides that may have negative consequences on the health of your soil, plants, and even local wildlife – so what’s the alternative?

Embrace The Safer Way To Spray  

Spending time outside and in the garden is not only good for our overall well being, but it’s also an easy way to start educating yourself on the importance of sustainability. 

If you’re noticing foreign invaders popping up in your garden, a naturally produced weed killer like Bioweed is a safe way to keep them under control. As a non-residual solution, it will break down into the soil in as little as 72 hours and can combat over 200 invasive weed species, making it safe for you, your family, your pets, and your local native wildlife to navigate. 

Bioweed is the brainchild of well established agricultural leader GreenPRO, and is backed by over twenty years of research and development. Owned and manufactured in Australia, the primary ingredient of Bioweed is actually sustainably sourced pine oil, and is even approved by NASAA, ACO and APVMA for use around organic farms and food production.

If you’re on the hunt for a natural weed killer, more organic gardening solutions, or simply want to know more about eliminating weeds safely, check out other tips and tricks in our online advice forum, or contact us for any further queries.