We have a stubborn oak tree that won’t drop her leaves.
She just won’t!
These leaves endure snow, sleet, ice, and rain. They survive harsh winter winds, and they refuse to drop. It’s nearly Christmas, and they still hang on.
They sit there in all their crispy brown mess, blocking my view. Ugly!
I’ve wondered about this ugly mass of leaves for 7 years now. I learn today the reason why this oak tree hangs on to her leaves. There’s even a name for it: marcescence.
Holding on to the dead leaves (marcescence) protects the branches from hungry deer and bear who eat the bark. The leaves also trap snow which helps water the roots. Some theorize that the leaves stay to warm new buds and twigs and drop only when it’s an ideal time to fertilize in the spring. If the leaves dropped in fall, they’d decompose before spring, and this is when the tree needs the nutrients of the decomposing leaves the most.
The apparent refusal to do what all the other trees do–at the time they do it–actually signifies something smart and adaptive. Trees that manifest marcescence are the smartest and best!
So if our timing’s all wrong and we feel behind all the others, let’s remember my sturdy oak tree. Having a different schedule might just mean we’re doing what we need to do to protect and nourish ourselves and others.
I slow down, hold on to my leaves, and smile up at my lovely caramel oak leaves. How marvelous they are!
Isn’t it funny how when you understand something, you suddenly find beauty in what was once ugly?