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False autumn

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False Autumn – Why Leaves are Falling from Trees in August

Autumn is still a way off yet, but there is a definite crunch underfoot and an auburn glow as trees across the UK are already shedding their leaves. The phenomenon follows the recent prolonged dry spell, forcing trees into survival mode and sparking what’s known as a ‘false autumn’.

When the leaves of a tree turn brown early, it’s a sign that the tree is stressed and attempting to conserve water and energy that would otherwise be lost through photosynthesis. Younger trees are having a tougher time, lacking the deep root systems that older trees make use of to reach water deep underground.

According to the Woodland Trust, the trees are ‘enacting the hormones they use in autumn to just retract and ensure their survival’. They say that they’ll keep going like this for a few years, but that there will be long term effects if these hot, dry summers continue.

The full implications of a false autumn

This July was the driest on record in many parts of southern and eastern England. Climate change has been named as the culprit, leading to drought being declared in many places across the UK. Trees have been shedding their leaves to conserve moisture, with those most likely to be affected birch, silver birch and rowan trees.

As well as leaves turning golden and dropping, there are other implications of a false autumn. The natural store of nuts and berries is likely to be considerably depleted by the time October and November come around, as they have been appearing much earlier than usual. There are reports that the drought has led to many wild fruits being smaller and less juicy than normal. All of this will have a devastating impact on food sources for birds and wildlife.

False autumn
Birds and wildlife may be short on natural food sources later in the year.

But it’s not all necessarily bad news for trees. Those with yellow leaves should be able to recover, providing we get sufficient rain. However, some trees may not be able to survive, especially those that were previously weak or diseased, or planted in poorer soils, such as those growing on roadsides. Others may become more prone to future disease.

There is a point where a tree can no longer absorb the moisture needed to restock the water stores in the roots.

During a false autumn, trees will often start producing seeds such as acorns to boost their chances of reproduction and ensure survival of the species. So if you see lots of acorns about, that’s the reason why.

It seems ironic that climate change is responsible for the potential demise of some of our trees, when trees themselves have the power to fight climate change.

False autumn
Trees are producing more seeds to boost their chances of reproduction and survival.

Professional help with tree care

If you are concerned for the health of a tree on your land, whether it’s losing its leaves or just not looking its usual vibrant self, it may benefit from the attention of a qualified tree surgeon.

At TH Trees, our highly experienced, fully qualified, helpful are ready to help. For personalised assistance, you are welcome to get in touch.

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