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Trees That Shed in Winter

By Michelle Wishhart ; Updated September 21, 2017
The mimosa tree loses its leaves in the winter.
mimosa image by Alexander Oshvintsev from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Trees that shed their leaves in the winter are known as "deciduous" trees. These trees are valued for providing shade throughout the summer, and for letting sun in through their branches during the winter. Deciduous trees often boast impressive displays of color during autumn before their leaves drop to the ground.

West Indies Mahogany

West Indies mahogany (Swietenia mahogani) is a semi-deciduous tree that loses its leaves towards the end of winter. A native of the West Indies, the Bahamas and Southern Florida, the tree is valued for the shade of its wide canopy and for its timber. West Indies mahogany reaches an average height of between 30 to 40 feet, though it may reach up to 75 feet in rare instances. The spread of the canopy ranges between 20 to 30 feet. The tree sports glossy, olive green leaves and unremarkable small flowers. West Indies mahogany is a warm weather lover that will really only flourish in USDA zones 10 and 11. Plant the tree in full or partial sunlight in a well-draining acidic to alkaline soil, and water regularly.

Mimosa Tree

A member of the bean family, the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin), also frequently called silk tree, is a flowering deciduous tree native to China. The plant is commonly cultivated for its flowers, which bloom prolifically during late summer. Mimosa trees are on the small side, reaching an average height of about 20 feet with a similar spread. The fern-like leaves of the plant shed in winter, and while many are green, varieties like the summer chocolate mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate') boast burgundy brown leaves. The mimosa tree does best in full sunlight in USDA zones 7 to 10. The adaptable tree isn't picky about soil, and is fairly drought tolerant once established. The tree is invasive in some areas, so consult an invasive species list before planting.

Golden Rain Tree

A member of the soapberry family, golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) is a flowering deciduous tree native to Eastern Asia. The small tree reaches a maximum height of 30 feet, producing scores of cheery yellow flowers in the autumn. The delicate, lacy leaves are green in the spring and summer and gradually turn yellow in the fall before dropping off in the winter. Golden rain tree will produce its loveliest flowers when grown in full sunlight in USDA zones 5 to 9. The tree is adaptable to soil pH and can handle brief periods of drought (though it will look better with regular watering).


About the Author


Michelle Wishhart is a writer based in Portland, Ore. She has been writing professionally since 2005, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for City on a Hill Press, an alternative weekly newspaper in Santa Cruz, Calif. An avid gardener, Wishhart worked as a Wholesale Nursery Grower at Encinal Nursery for two years. Wishhart holds a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts and English literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.