Whether you're an aspiring gardener or simply a casual observer of nature, you've no doubt noticed that plants take amazing pains to survive harsh weather conditions. As the winter approaches, most varieties of flora such as common trees, red rose plants, and potted plant gifts appear to die - shedding their leaves and flowers and going into a prolonged state of dormancy. However, evergreen trees and shrubs have found a way to retain their color all year long - becoming symbols of life and vitality in the cold, dark months. Here is some information on how these incredible plants manage to stay green in summer and winter alike.
Why It's Necessary
Before addressing the question of how evergreens manage to thrive when other plants fade into dormant states, it's important to understand why they have adapted these processes. According to IdahoForests.org, evergreen plants were initially found in cold climates in the northern hemisphere. While flora in more southern areas enjoy extended growing seasons with plenty of available light for photosynthesis, evergreens in the north have much shorter periods of warmth. As a result, these trees and bushes had to find ways to continue collecting sunlight all year long in order to survive the harsh landscape, reports West Virginia Wildlife Magazine. Because plants use chlorophyll found in their leaves (responsible for their green hues) in order to absorb and convert sunshine into food, evergreens had to remain green during all seasons.
How It Works
A common characteristic found in evergreen trees and shrubs is their tough, waxy leaves. Beyond protecting these specimens from the bitter cold, the primary function of this surface coating is to prevent dehydration or drying out, according to FunTrivia.com. Broadleaf evergreens such as oaks and laurels have regular leaves with this type of coating. Similarly, the sharp needles found on conifers such as spruces and pines are actually tightly rolled leaves. By protecting their greenery in such a way, photosynthesis is able to continue within these plants throughout the year.
Where Can They Be Found?
While they may have originated in the far north, evergreen trees can be found in far more temperate climates as well. These plant specimens thrive in the arctic regions of Canada and Siberia as well as warmer areas like the forests of California and the Southeastern U.S., reports WildernessCollege.com. In fact, the term evergreen can also refer to plants in equatorial landscapes like rainforests, where winters are nearly as warm as summers, meaning that plants remain green in all seasons there, too.