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Learn About Deciduous and Evergreen Trees for Kids

Updated on October 8, 2014

Trees can either be deciduous or evergreen. How can you tell the difference?

Deciduous Trees

Trees that have leaves that turn red, brown or yellow in the fall (or autumn) are called deciduous trees. New leaves grow in the spring.

Trees with big leaves are usually deciduous. Leaves help trees make food from the sun through a process called photosynthesis. There isn’t enough sunlight for photosynthesis to provide sufficient energy in winter.

So, deciduous trees create special chemicals that cause all of the leaves to fall off. These chemicals are called hormones. These special hormones inhibit or prevent new leaf growth during wintertime. Trees store food to live during winter. By losing their leaves, they need far less food to survive.

A deciduous forest in winter
A deciduous forest in winter

Meet Some Deciduous Trees

These are some deciduous trees you may see:

Red Oak Tree
Red Oak Tree

Red Oak Tree

You may be very familiar with the seed of this type of tree. It's called an acorn. Squirrels, bears, raccoons, deer and some types of birds use the acorn for food. Red Oaks can grow as high as 90 feet tall and can live for a few hundred years.

Flowers on a Flowering Dogwood Tree
Flowers on a Flowering Dogwood Tree

Flowering Dogwood Tree

The Flowering Dogwood Tree is famous for the aroma of it's bright flowers. The tree has either white, yellow or pink flowers that bloom in May. Berries that grow on these trees are eaten by birds. They can grow up to 25 feet tall.

A crabapple
A crabapple

Crabapple Tree

Crabapples are much smaller than regular apples. Both people and animals eat crabapples. They have a tart rather than sweet taste. The apples are less than two inches in diameter. The trees grow between 15 and 25 feet.

A hawthorn in bloom
A hawthorn in bloom

Hawthorn Tree

Hawthorn trees get their name because they have thorns that are about 2 inches long. The haw part means hedge. While many birds live in them only a few species will eat the berries they produce. Hawthorns grown about 40 feet tall and up to 30 feet wide.

Evergreen versus Deciduous Trees

Evergreen Trees

Trees that don’t lose their leaves are called evergreen trees. Evergreens usually have thin needle-like leaves, like pine trees. Or they have waxy leaves, like holly. These special leaves don’t lose moisture and can resist cold weather.

The evergreen trees you are likely most familiar with are christmas trees. They are usually spruce, pine or fir trees. You may also be familiar with the seed of a pine tree. It's called a pine cone.

Pine forest
Pine forest

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