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The warm winter (ugh) means some trees are getting ready to start budding, at least a month early. Sugar shacks are definitely worried, since when maple trees start budding the chemistry of the sap changes and you can’t make good syrup.

Anyway, I thought I’d use this to review a question I asked a couple ago: Why don’t some oak and beech trees drop their leaves in winter, like all the other deciduous species do up here?

This fact is called “marcescence” and there doesn’t seem to be a clear explanation for this not-quite-evergreen, not-quite-deciduous behavior. Among the competing ideas: Maybe they moved north fairly recently and haven’t evolved complete leaf-shedding; maybe their are certain advantages like keeping away browsing deer or collecting snow to increase moisture; maybe it’s a function of the types of soil they prefer.

The superb magazine Northern Woodlands had a great article on it back in 2010, and I can’t do better than to point you to it. Read, and learn..

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