What Are Deciduous Trees? - Types, Definition & Examples

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

One fascinating group of trees found all over the world are known as deciduous trees. In this lesson, we will examine them more closely. We will discuss their characteristics and look at examples so you will be able to recognize them in nature.

Definition of Deciduous Trees

More than likely, you are not too far from a deciduous tree right now. Deciduous trees are trees that drop their leaves for part of the year. They are found in temperate and tropical climates all over the world. Deciduous trees have broad flat leaves that catch a lot of light and require a great amount of water. In some cases, leaf loss coincides with winter - namely in temperate or polar climates when there is less sunlight for the process of photosynthesis.

In other parts of the world, including tropical, subtropical, and arid regions, deciduous trees lose their leaves during the dry season or other seasons, depending on variations in rainfall. This allows the trees to enter a dormant period during the difficult times as a means of survival. The process of shedding unneeded parts, such as leaves, is known as abscission. Unlike deciduous trees, evergreen trees, such as pine and cedar trees, keep their needles year round.

Types and Examples of Deciduous Trees

Deciduous trees can be found in most regions of the planet. Common examples of deciduous trees include oak, maple, and hickory trees. Oak trees are characteristic deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the fall and re-grow them in the spring. There are approximately 600 living species of oak trees. These hardwood trees have large, lobe-shaped leaves and produce a fruit in the form of a nut called an acorn. They grow in a variety of regions, ranging from temperate forests and rain forests to arid Mediterranean landscapes. As a strong hardwood tree, oaks have been crucial to the building industry for hundreds of years and have been propagated by tree farmers for this purpose.

Classic oak trees like this are found all over the United States.
Image of an oak tree

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