Glossary Term: Deciduous

Deciduous means “falling off at maturity” or “tending to fall off”, and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe. In a more general sense, deciduous means the dropping of a part that is no longer needed, or falling away after its purpose is finished. In plants it is the result of natural processes. Deciduous has a similar meaning when referring to animal parts, such as deciduous antlers in deer, or deciduous teeth, also known as baby teeth, in some mammals (including human children). In botany and horticulture, deciduous plants, including trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials, are those that lose all of their leaves for part of the year. This process is called abscission. In some cases leaf loss coincides with winter – namely in temperate or polar climates. In other parts of the world, including tropical, subtropical, and arid regions, plants lose their leaves during the dry season or other seasons, depending on variations in rainfall. The converse of deciduous is evergreen, where green foliage is persistent year round. Plants that are intermediate may be called semi-deciduous; they lose old foliage as new growth begins. Other plants are semi-evergreen and lose their leaves before the next growing season, retaining some during winter or dry periods.

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Created: 2019-06-23 12:04:18 PDT (-0700)
Last modified: 2019-06-23 12:04:18 PDT (-0700)