Why do dead leaves remain on the tree?

Asked October 29, 2014, 6:19 PM EDT

We have a tree that fails to drop all its leaves every year. Is there anything we can do to get the dead leaves to fall? What can we do to help this in the future?

I have included a picture of our tree, with a picture of the healthy leaves and the dead leaves that are left hanging on the branches.

Jefferson County Colorado

1 Response

What you are describing is marcescence, retention of dead organs. Typically, cells at the junction of the leaf stem and twig form an abscission layer that disconnects the leaf from the twig. It's fairly common to see this on smaller trees or the smaller branches of bigger ones. There are many theories as to why this happens. Environmental conditions and genetics probably play a role. It is not harmful to the tree and there is no need for you to take any action.