When it comes to the difference between evergreen and deciduous shrubs, it’s all about how the plant adapts to different seasons. Deciduous shrubs and trees drop their leaves and go dormant for a period of time, usually winter, to conserve water and reduce water loss, enabling the plant to survive. Evergreen trees have adapted so that they do not need to drop their leaves in order to conserve water during certain times of the year but they may shed old leaves throughout the year.
What Are Evergreen Trees?
An evergreen is a plant which has foliage that remains green and functional through more than one growing season. This also pertains to plants that retain their foliage only in warm climates, and contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season. Most popular evergreens include:
What Are Deciduous Trees?
Deciduous trees lose their leaves at the end of their growing season. Prior to shedding their foliage, the leaves of deciduous trees will change colors for a short period. These trees are considered hardwoods and are found in the fall in temperate deciduous forests, and in the dry season in tropical and subtropical deciduous forests. Some of the most well-known deciduous trees are:
- Deciduous trees shed their leaves usually as an adaptation to a cold or dry/wet season. Evergreen trees do lose leaves, but each tree loses its leaves gradually and not all at once.
- The leaves of evergreens usually are thicker and more leathery than those of deciduous trees, with a larger volume of parenchyma and air spaces per unit leaf area.
- Evergreen trees require higher amounts of nutrients for survival compared to deciduous trees, especially during bad weather conditions.
- Deciduous trees tend to produce hardwoods while softwoods are mostly obtained from evergreen trees.
- Just before the leaves fall, the leaves of deciduous trees lose their green color. By comparison, evergreen trees never lose the green color of their leaves.
- The evergreen forests are mainly sensitive to temperature while deciduous forests are sensitive to rainfall.
- Evergreen trees mostly grow in tropical rainforests while deciduous trees grow in temperate forests or in tropical and subtropical forests.
- Flowering for evergreen trees happens when leaves are present.For the majority of deciduous trees, flowering usually occurs during the time when they are leafless in order to increase the chances of pollination.
- Exanples of evergreen trees include: mahogany, ebony, rosewood, rubber, conifers, cycads, etc. while examples of deciduous trees include: sandalwood, teak, sal, oak, maple, etc.
- Most deciduous trees display branches and foliage on the crown or top of the trunk. Evergreen trees grow branches in an inverted cone, with more width across the bottom and a peaked crown.
- The deciduous offer beautiful fall foliage and good shade coverage once full grown. Evergreens provide privacy and act as a windbreak for years, while offering visual interest in your winter garden.
- Deciduous trees require a lot of energy and nutrients in the spring, when they put out new leaves. Evergreen trees, on the other hand, conserve energy and nutrients by slowly growing new foliage year-round.
- Evergreen tree foliage are coated in a waxy coating to reduce transpiration of water. Deciduous trees do not have this modified coating.
Also Read: Difference Between Monocot And Dicot Leaf
Evergreen trees are popular as ornamentals because they retain their foliage year-round, rather than dropping their leaves in the fall and creating an unsightly mess. Deciduous trees can also create a very stark landscape in the winter when they lose their leaves. Evergreen trees keep the garden looking green and alive, even in snowy climates.
When choosing trees for your yard, it’s wise to consider whether the plant is deciduous or evergreen based on its purpose. If you’re looking for a privacy hedge, choosing deciduous trees will leave your landscape and home exposed during certain times of the year. If you’re looking for showy fall foliage, an evergreen shrub or types of evergreen trees will leave you disappointed.