Why do Evergreens stay ever green?

Tue. Nov. 28, 2017

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Why do Evergreens stay ever green?

My friend and arborist, Faith Appelquist, who owns Treequality, wrote a wonderful blog answering the question of why evergreens stay ever green.  To be honest, I didn’t know!

fir tree

So, I wanted to share what I learned from Faith.  She says it’s not that simple.

Evergreens originated in cold climates where summers are short and winters are bitterly cold.  Holding on to their needles means a quick start to photosynthesis and new growth.  What I found fascinating is that, Faith explains, those skinny needles are actually very tightly rolled leaves!  Who knew?  Well, Faith did and probably a whole of other arborists!

Balsam Fir needles
White pine needles

They are perfectly compact and adapted to withstand harsh, dry conditions.  They lose very little water as a result.  As they are long and thin, they shed snow more easily and contain little sap that can freeze. Faith says, it’s risky though, hanging on to those needles.  Snow lands on the branches, accumulates and can get very heavy, heavy enough to break to bough.

Evergreen at Christmas

The evergreen has two defense systems, however.  The first is it’s straight trunk with downward sloping branches.  Snow lands on the branches, they angle down and the snow glides down around the tree. Their pyramidal shape helps catch rain better and allows for maximum sunlight.  Evergreens like cool, moist conditions but with climate change, they’re finding themselves hot and thirsty.

White Pine tree

Faith believes that deciduous trees will have a better chance at survival in the future.

Kentucky Coffee tree