Native broadleaf trees with persistent foliage
Have you noticed that a few broadleaf trees change color in fall, but don't drop their leaves? Many of their brown leaves cling to the tree throughout winter and early spring until new leaf growth begins. This characteristic is called marescence.
Here are nine native trees that behave in this fashion.
- American beech (Fagus grandifolia)
- American hophornbean (Ostrya virginiana) also called ironwood
- Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) also called American planetree or buttonwood
- Black oak (Quercus velutina)
- Blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica)
- Northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis)
- Pin oak (Quercus palustris)
- Shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria)
- White oak (Quercus alba)
Perhaps it's no surprise to you that the majority are oaks. Owners of these oak trees often complain that they shed leaves all winter long. I know an elderly lady who is very opposed to oaks as the national tree. She has lived her entire adult life under big white oaks, and she hates the way they drop their leaves a little at a time, all winter. "Just not tidy trees," she told me.
Trees with some winter foliage will perform better as a windbreak, screen, or sound barrier than trees that have dropped all their leaves.
They will also cast more shade in the winter than trees that have dropped their leaves. Sunshine on the house in winter is generally a good thing, so consider that when choosing a planting site for a tree that keeps winter leaves.
Image credit: Pin oak leaf drawing by J. R. Stacy of the U.S. Geological Survey.