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Discovery Magazine 11/1/1992

Why Do Leaves Fall?

Another name for autumn is fall, because it is the season when leaves fall from the trees. But not all trees lose their leaves at this time.

We call some trees "evergreens" because they stay green all through the year. Some leaves on an evergreen may last for fifteen years! Eventually, the old leaves will drop off, and new ones will grow in their place. Pines and firs are examples of evergreen trees. They have needle-like leaves which are covered with a thick layer of wax. These special leaves help the tree live when the weather becomes cold and dry.

Other trees (like oaks and maples) are "deciduous" (dee-SIJ-oo-us). This means that they shed all, or nearly all, their leaves each year. This usually happens in the autumn when the days get cooler and shorter. After the tree stores the food from the leaves, the leaf stem begins to change. A special chemical called abscisic (ab-SIS-ik) acid is formed. This weakens the layer of cells where the leaf is attached. Then, when the wind blows, the dead leaf is pulled away from the tree. It is replaced by a leaf bud that will grow into a fresh new leaf in spring. Bacteria and fungi break down the dead leaves that fall to the ground. This makes more food for the tree.

Evergreens and deciduous trees show many designs of God. He created them so that they could live in many different parts of the world.



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