Deciduous trees leaves turn color in the fall and drop, but did you know that the needles on evergreens do too?

Although most conifer (cone bearing) trees are considered to be "evergreen," their needles do not live forever. They are considered evergreen because their leaves (needles) stay for more than one year before falling.

How frequently they drop their needles depends on the species of tree. New needles appear before the old ones change color and drop, so the tree is not bare.

Older needles on the inside of evergreen trees are shed in the fall after they turn yellow, brown, or reddish tan in color. Some years the colors are very subtle, but in years where the tree has experienced stressful conditions, the color may be more pronounced.

Pine trees can hold their needles for two to five years depending on the species, while spruce only drop every five to seven years.

The eastern white pine, which is very common in our area, drops its needles every two years. So if you are seeing quite a bit of brownish coloration on your pine tree, it may just be the natural needle drop occurring.

However, needle drop should only be occurring on the inner needles and not entire branches turning brown. If you see damage occurring on that level, check the branch for a canker or sore spot that may be affecting the growth.

Believe it or not, there are actually a few types of conifers that shed all their needles every year. These deciduous conifers include larch, bald cypress and dawn redwood. The larch with its golden yellow and the bald cypress and dawn redwood with their bronze hues can add great beauty to the fall landscape.

Such trees are unusual enough that more than one story has been told about people that removed such trees after they were mistakenly determined to be dead.


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