Why Do Some Oak Trees Lose Their Leaves in the Spring Instead of the Fall?

Date May 20, 2022

Author TreeNewal Staff

When most people think of leaves falling from trees, they imagine the leaves turning a beautiful yellow, orange, and red in the fall. However, there are some oak trees that lose their leaves in the spring rather than the fall. So why do these oak trees behave differently?

Why Do Trees Lose Their Leaves at All?

Before we get into why some oak trees lose their leaves in the spring, it’s important to understand why trees lose their leaves at all. Trees are constantly growing and shedding leaves as part of their natural life cycle.

In the fall, trees go into a state of dormancy where they prepare for winter. The days become shorter, and the temperature starts to drop, signaling to the trees that it’s time to start shutting down for the season.

As part of this dormancy process, trees will start to produce a substance called abscisic acid. This substance will cause the tree’s leaves to start falling off. Once all the leaves have fallen, the tree will be able to conserve energy and resources for the winter.

Why Do Some Oak Trees Lose Their Leaves in the Spring?

So why do some oak trees lose their leaves in the spring rather than the fall? The answer has to do with a combination of genetics and environmental factors.


Other oak trees have a genetic predisposition to lose their leaves in the spring. This trait is often passed down from generation to generation. Spring-shedding oak trees are more common in certain parts of the world, such as Europe and Asia.

In North Texas, live oaks and water oaks are good examples of trees that shed green leaves in the spring. Arboriculturally, this is called being “tardily deciduous.” Although they may appear to be evergreens, these trees are technically deciduous because they shed all of their leaves annually, although in the spring rather than the fall.

Environmental Factors

While oak trees are typically known for their resilience, they can be adversely affected by environmental stressors.

A prolonged drought, for example, can cause the tree to shed its leaves in an effort to conserve moisture. Similarly, if the tree is infected with a disease or infested with insect pests, it may drop its leaves as a way of conserving energy and food. In these cases, the oak tree’s leaves will usually turn yellow or brown before falling off.

While the tree may produce new leaves the following season, it will likely be weaker and more susceptible to stressors than before. As a result, it’s important to monitor oak trees for signs of distress and take steps to protect them from environmental stressors.

Which Trees Lose Their Leaves in Spring?

While it may be strange to see oak trees shedding their leaves in the spring, it’s actually a perfectly normal occurrence, especially for the live oak tree. Other trees known to drop their leaves in spring instead of fall are

So, the next time you see an oak tree shedding its leaves in the spring, don’t be alarmed. It may just be doing what comes naturally…but check with an ISA-Certified arborist to be sure!

Ask TreeNewal

Contact TreeNewal for help with keeping your oak trees in tip-top shape. Although some oak trees lose their leaves in the spring, it’s important to consult an expert to make sure your trees are healthy and thriving. At TreeNewal, we specialize in all things tree-related, from planting and maintenance to diagnosis and treatment. If you have any questions about why your oak trees are losing their leaves or how to keep them healthy, don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to help!

If you need advice or assistance with checking the health of your trees, get in touch with the ISA-certified Arborists at TreeNewal and enjoy tailored tree care advice.

To learn more about Why Do Some Oak Trees Lose Their Leaves in the Spring Instead of the Fall?, call our Argyle and Southlake-based teams

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