What Happens to Trees in the Spring?

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Spring is much loved for its many blossoms and colors. A tree in spring is often full of blooms, and even trees that are not flowering may start to bud or regrow their leaves. It's known as a time of new beginnings and for good reason: In spring, trees are working hard on a biological level to ready themselves for seeds to be produced and pollinators to come around.

Budding Trees in Spring

Trees typically lose their leaves in autumn, having used them all summer to harness energy from the sun and create chemical energy for growth and maintenance via photosynthesis. In the spring, many trees begin to bud, which may look different based on the tree. Sugar maple tree buds, for instance, are a bit pointy and appear reddish or brown. Bitternut hickory trees have yellow buds, and the buds of beech trees are shaped a bit like a narrow cigar.

Outside, a bud may look like a small stick. If you look closely, however, you'll see that buds are actually composed of many, many small parts called scale. These are essentially a type of leaf, the job of which is to protect the bud during winter. Inside, a bud is composed of many tiny leaves. These are the leaves that will grow in summer.

Bud Break Signs

After buds emerge and the weather warms, flowers or leaves will burst forth on the tree. Called a bud break, this occurs when sunlight levels are finally appropriate for trees. The cells in a bud are sensitive to light and will know the right time to break open.

It's usually quite obvious when the trees in your area have had their bud break, as flowers and leaves are suddenly visible on the trees. If you have certain kinds of seasonal allergies, you will likely start to sneeze as well.

Function of a Tree in Spring

Believe it or not, every tree actually has a flower. Some trees have visible flowers, while others flower in ways that are less visible. In some tree species, the flowers may be green and quite small. They emerge at the same time as the leaves on a tree. They have a different role, however.

Leaves work to capture sunlight for the tree, which it will in turn use for photosynthesis and to make energy. Flowers, on the other hand, are responsible for the reproduction of the tree. Some trees have both male and female flowers. The male flowers make pollen, while the female flowers are there to be fertilized via their stigma. You may not know it at the time, but spring is also the time when seedlings that have been previously fertilized will take root.

Other parts of the tree are hard at work during springtime. Roots grow quickly during the first parts of the season to find new nutrients and water. Branches also grow in an effort to find as much light for their leaves as possible. Sap, composed of water and minerals, is absorbed via the tree's roots. It moves up the trunk of the tree and is carried to parts of the tree called alburnum, or sapwood. If you enjoy maple syrup, this is the process responsible for it.

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