Winter is a time when animals hibernate or build cozy, warm dens and eat more food to keep warm. Many plants die off completely, and others lose above-ground growth while the root systems remain hunkered down underground for protection from the harsh elements.
Trees are different. Most conifers — or evergreens — keep their needles all year long. Even when the leaves of trees change colour and fall away, however, the trunk and branches remain above ground, exposed to whatever winter throws at them. In Canada, severe weather is not uncommon with the wind, temperatures far below freezing and heavy snow, rains or ice all possible. So how do trees withstand winter conditions?
Energy Conservation Is Key
Just as bears and other hibernating animals survive winter through energy conservation, so do trees. They enter into a state similar to hibernation called dormancy. While trees are dormant, their natural processes slow down. This includes growth, metabolism and the consumption of energy.
Since almost all conifers keep their needles year-round, they do continue to photosynthesize. However, in winter, the sun’s energy is much less abundant, so strength conservation is still necessary. Since deciduous trees lose their leaves, photosynthesis becomes impossible. The benefit, however, is that the trees require less energy to maintain essential processes over the winter months.
Both conifers and deciduous trees produce a chemical called ABA. This chemical prevents cells from dividing, impeding growth. The tree’s slowed metabolism also helps reduce cell development. When growth is suspended, the tree conserves the energy it would normally need for this function and can use the stored energy for essential activities.
Freezing Temperature Survival is Imperative
There are three changes that trees undergo during the end of the fall season to prepare for winter temperatures. First, the structure of living cells changes to become more pliable. This allows much of the water within the cell to move through the walls and fill in space between the cells. Secondly, as the cells lose water, their remaining fluids become more viscous, preventing crystallization as the temperatures dip below freezing.
The third adaptation involves the conversion of starches to sugars. These sugars are found primarily within the living cells. They serve as an antifreeze by substantially lowering the freezing point for the cell’s fluids. Interestingly, these three adaptations are only required for cells that are still living. A majority of the cells in the tree’s trunk and branches are already dead; thus, freezing temperatures won’t kill them.
Tree Pruning Is Helpful
When it comes to the trees in your garden, you can help them get through the winter months by keeping them healthy. Tree pruning is good for trees. Hiring professionals ensures that the right branches are removed at the correct time of year and in a way that protects tree health. When excess branches or those no longer alive are removed during dormancy, the tree is better able to perform the essential functions it needs to survive harsh winter conditions.
If you have dead trees, it is time to consult a tree removal service to discuss your options. Removing these trees may be necessary to maintain safe conditions for your family and property. An expert can provide you with information on how this is best accomplished.
Trustworthy Tree Removal Service Is Available
Martin’s Tree Service offers pruning and removal services from professionals you can trust. We are passionate about trees and dedicated to our customers. Contact us today to request a quote or schedule an appointment.