Dry leaves still cling in spring to golden rain tree

Asked May 1, 2020, 2:37 PM EDT

Our new house has a golden rain tree that was beautiful last summer and fall but overwintered with dry leaves still clinging. We don’t see any signs of new growth. Question is this tree a very late starter or has the tree died?

Arapahoe County Colorado

1 Response

In a normal year, trees form what is called an abscission layer between the leaf stalk and the twig. When the abscission process is complete, the leaf drops. Sometimes when we have a warm fall, the abscission process is slowed. Then comes a fast and hard freeze before the abscission layer is formed which “freezes” the leaf tissue. The result is some (or many) leaves appear to be “stuck” on the tree, remaining there for several weeks or months after they are normally supposed to fall.

There is nothing that can be done about these leaves that did not drop. Sometimes winter winds may eventually blow off the leaves, or new growth in the spring will push them off.

If you are concerned the tree is dead, take your thumbnail and scratch a little bark off one of the small twigs. If the tissue underneath is green, the tree is alive. Watch for new leaves to push out and check for any dead branches that should be pruned out.

ALWAYS water your trees, lawn and landscape in the winter months, October thru April.

https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/fall-and-winter-watering-7-211/

More on abscission at this link:

https://www.pennlive.com/gardening/2017/12/why_are_so_many_brown_leaves_s.html