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Trees that stay green stubbornly late

November 12, 2018

I have noticed this in both states I’ve lived in - Ohio, and Maryland...

It’ll be around this time of year, when the vast majority of trees have either lost all of their leaves, are well on their way to doing so. But there’s that one tree sticking out that’s still almost completely green. And I’m not talking about trees that always stay green late, like a sawtooth oak, but one where most specimens of its species are well on their way to dormancy, but this particular one is a hold out.

When I was a student at the University of Akron, there was an English Oak that stayed completely green well into December, and in that climate, most years the leaves ended up getting frozen in situ while still green, and then grudgingly dropping off by the new year. It seemed that temps below 20F were necessary to kill the leaves.

Here in MD, there is a Platanus that does the same, it’s still deep green when most others are bare, or at least brown/yellow. It usually holds out until early December as well unless a hard freeze does the job first.

Comments (11)

  • bengz6westmd

    Exotic trees sometimes do this -- not "smart" in this climate. Enormous English elms where I grew up held leaves late & so early one Nov got hammered by an early wet snow and suffered fairly bad branch-breakage. Norway & Japanese maples. Chinese & Siberian elms. Weeping willows. Sawtooth oaks as you mention. English oaks (actually hold on to their leaves all winter). My Japanese larch, but whaas shows even American larch in the upper midwest does the same thing. Perhaps your mentioned Platanus is a Plane tree (hybrid), but my pure Amer sycamore holds later than most trees (finally bare the last week). Northern red oak holds leaves in the forest quite late too.

    Perhaps Ginkgo "knows" a thing or two after the millions & millions of yrs -- drops leaves pronto after the first hard freeze.

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    The Ginkgo drop is my favorite event in our yard. What a sight to see the brilliant yellow leaves all on the ground. Do you suppose they do a count, like "one, two, three DROP"!

  • subtropix

    This year, Ginkgo leaves just dropped..., no yellow, all green. So, that was a disappointment for an Autumn Gold. But it does happen pronto!

    The only deciduous tree that I have that is still in full leaf is my Japanese Maple 'Goodblood', which is a bigger variety. It is in a full sun southern exposure near the house. Have not seen how it compares to other trees in the area (Zone 7/NJ).

  • corkball (z9 FL)

    I had a weeping willow that did that in MN. Of course now that I am in FL, they ALL do that ;)

  • joeinmo 6b-7a

    My texas Live Oak quercus Fusiformis will keep its leaves green till about zero and then it will turn a purple green to about -7 and anything after that brown

  • cearbhaill (zone 6b Eastern Kentucky)

    My Japanese Maple 'Tsuma Beni' is still in full green leaf while all my other 30+ JM varieties are bare or nearly so. I don't recall it doing this in years past.

  • hairmetal4ever

    My JMs were mostly turned, but remaining leaves turned crispy after a 23F night a few days ago.

  • whaas_5a

    I see this quite often if a plant has better moisture or better soil or protected from wind or cold, reflected heat or any combination there of. For example I have a fringe tree in a eastern cove. It was green up until a couple weeks ago when most trees have been leafless for in some cases over a month.

  • bjb817

    Siberian Elm and Weeping Willows are two of the holdouts in Southern Mn where I grew up. While not technically a tree, Buckthorn is notorious for this too.

    hairmetal4ever thanked bjb817
  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    Quercus laurifolia - Swamp laurel oak - stays green until maybe mid- to late-January here in Northern VA. Quercus hemisphaerica, maybe longer. Quercus nigra can hold leaves into December.

  • arbordave (SE MI)

    I believe this shumard oak was planted about 10 years ago. It holds green leaves later than any other oaks around here (eventually turning brown and falling). But it seems to be fully hardy as I haven't noticed any dieback, even after the polar vortex winters. Photo taken today (4 Dec). We had low temps in the teens at least a couple times in Nov.

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