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Trees That Lose Their Leaves in the Winter

Deciduous trees are those that lose their leaves each fall and enter a stage of dormancy for the winter months, according to the University of Minnesota’s Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Site. The leaves that fell in the autumn chill grow anew in the springtime on deciduous trees, repeating this cycle of rebirth and death for the lifespan of the tree. Many families of trees go through this process in the United States, including the maples, most of the oaks, many nut and fruit trees, and other recognizable and common species.


The majority of the oak tree species will shed their leaves by the time the calendar indicates winter, with the white oaks, bur oaks, overcup oaks, Gambel oaks, chestnut oaks, red oaks, black oaks, scarlet oaks, blue oaks and willow oaks among them. A few oaks–like the evergreen myrtle oaks and live oaks–hang onto their leaves year round.


Maples have what botanists will refer to as opposite leaves, with two leaves growing opposite each other on a twig attached to a branch. Maples lose their leaves, with the foliage often turning the scenery into a spectacular array of reds, yellows, oranges and other colors in the fall. The maples that will become bare by the winter include such kinds as the red maple, silver maple, sugar maple, Norway maple, black maple, mountain maple, bigleaf maple, striped maple and the boxelder–a type of maple with different leaves. Boxelders have compound leaves (multiple leaflets on one stem), but they fall off just the same.

Fruit and Nut Trees

The American plum, Allegheny plum, black cherry, sweet crabapple, frosted hawthorn and persimmon tree are deciduous fruit-bearing species in America. Trees that produce nuts and lose their leaves in winter include the black walnut, bitternut hickory, shagbark hickory, pignut hickory, pecan, hazelnut and butternut trees. Many of the nut trees, such as the hickories and walnuts, have compound leaves with a large number of narrow leaflets attached to a central stem known as a rachis.

Other Species

Other types of trees that drop their leaves and then develop new ones each year are the horsechestnut, buckeye, sassafras, sweetgum, American sycamore, red mulberry, tuliptree, slippery elm, beech and eastern hophornbeam. The birches (paper, yellow, gray, and river) also lose their leaves. Additionally, cottonwoods, alders and most of the willows are American trees that stand naked in the winter cold.

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