Although some people may consider bare winter trees ugly, others appreciate their unique beauty. Some winter trees even bloom in winter, brightening up a dull snowy landscape. Many people may think they can't identify a winter tree, but this usually isn't true. Branches, which have either an opposite or alternate display, are arranged in the same way as leaves, which can provide helpful information in identifying a particular winter tree.
Trees either grow vertically or spread out. Elm trees usually grow in the shape of a vase, with their branches growing upright, notes the Neo Naturalist website. Usually, this is more pronounced in a forest because trees are forced to grow vertically, competing for light. On the other hand, sugar maples grow in a broad, spreading form with branches that reach outward.
Winter trees can have various types of barks. Tree with furrowed or scaled bark have overlapping tissues of new bark tissue with older tissue forced outward, which forms a coat of non-living cells, according to Oregon State University. Trees with smooth bark can shed water easily. This keeps trunks dry and less prone to lightning strikes, although they're more susceptible to rodent damage or fires than trees with thicker bark. Other trees have a protective, cork-like layer with pores so plant tissues can breathe.
Blooming Winter Trees
The Japanese apricot flowers in late winter or early spring, according to North Carolina State University. This fragrant tree produces either single or double blooms in shades of pink, red or white.
The hybrid witch hazel produces clusters of yellow or red flowers with twisted petals in late winter. The Higan cherry also flowers in winter, typically during winter warm spells, and has rosebuds that open to pink single or semi-double flowers that fade to nearly white.
Drying out can present significant problems, especially for evergreens, notes TreeHelp.com. Whenever trees lose more water than they're able to absorb from frozen grounds, they suffer from winter drought. This is a severe problem in early spring when the ground may still be frozen, although the sun starts warming the outside of trees.
Winter trees can suffer from cold stresses. Sudden temperature changes from daytime heat to freezing evening temperatures can have a negative effect on mature trees. This causes stress inside a tree, resulting in frost cracking or southwest injury, which is the side with the most winter sun. Usually, nothing can be done to avoid frost cracking, although often a tree can repair itself, notes TreeHelp.com.