Leaves on the ground

So my friend and I are having a debate whether in some seasons, trees grow more leaves than other. Could someone help. I’ve notice from the tree that is in my yard this year more leaves on the grown than last year. My friend says it is not so.

Welcome to the forum!

I think it’s reasonable to assume that the amount of foliage on a particular tree could vary from year to year. Obviously trees grow, sometimes quite rapidly in their early stages of life, and an increased amount of foliage would be expected. Other factors such as yearly rainfall, amount of herbivory, and external sources of stress could all affect how much foliage a tree produces one year compared to the next.


I’ve also noticed with the trees in my yard that the rate of leaf drop can be variable. Sometimes all at once, or spread out over weeks. With variable wind, this could make for very different amounts of visible leaf accumulation.


also in a wet year the leaves rot a lot faster. Freezes and thaws may do so also. If they turn browner they are less visible. if it is windy and in an otherwise exposed area the leaves may blow away.

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As trees grow they certainly grow new branches so there are more places to grow leaves. I do wonder if there are larger leaves grown in years/areas where there is more cloud cover. Young, shaded trees often grow larger leaves than the more mature trees with better light.

Where we live, leaves on the ground is not a reliable indicator due to high winds blowing and mixing leaves of neighboring trees of the same species or blowing away leaves of particular trees. Also, our River Birch dropped its leaves in phases whereas the Basswood seemed to drop them all pretty quickly


This is a great question, and these are some great responses!

Ecologists have also asked this question and tried to answer it. When I was in graduate school one of my tasks was setting up trash bags on frames in the forest to collect falling leaves, twigs, and seeds. I’d collect the bags regularly throughout the year, dry everything in an oven to standardize the moisture content, and then record the weights.

It was really cool to see how much stuff trees shed at different times of year, and compare the trends between different years and different species!


@zidac1989mb do you have an iNat account? I don’t see an account with your username on iNaturalist. As this forum is for the iNaturalist community, we ask that folks here use their iNat username.

Leaf count does vary as does mast production by trees. Weather seems to be a driving force.

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