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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Silver Fir shoot showing three successive years of retained leaves

In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant having leaves all year round. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage for part of the year.

Leaf persistence in evergreen plants may vary from a few months(with new leaves constantly being grown as old ones shed), to several decades (over thirty years in Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Pinus longaeva [1]).

A Southern live oak in winter

One additional special case exists in Welwitschia, an African gymnosperm plant which produces only two leaves, which grow continuously throughout the plant's life but gradually wear away at the apex, giving about 20–40 years' persistence of leaf tissue.

There are many different types of evergreens, both trees and shrubs, including most species of: conifers (e.g. white/scots/jack pine, red cedar, blue spruce, hemlock), live oaks, holly, "ancient" gymnosperms like cycads, as well as most angiosperms from frost-free climates, such as rainforest trees and Eucalypts.


Reasons for being evergreen or deciduous

Deciduous trees shed their leaves usually as an adaptation to a cold season or a dry season. Most tropical rainforest plants are evergreens, replacing their leaves gradually throughout the year as the leaves age and fall, whereas species growing in seasonally arid climates may be either evergreen or deciduous. Most warm temperate climate plants are also evergreen. In cool temperate climates, fewer plants are evergreen, with a predominance of conifers, as few evergreen broadleaf plants can tolerate severe cold below about -30 °C.

In areas where there is a reason for being deciduous (e.g. a cold season or dry season), being evergreen is usually an adaptation to low nutrient levels. Deciduous trees lose nutrients whenever they lose their leaves, and they must replenish these nutrients from the soil to build new leaves. When few nutrients are available, evergreen plants have an advantage. In warmer areas, species such as some pines and cypresses grow on poor soils and disturbed ground. In Rhododendron, a genus with many broadleaf evergreens, several species grow in mature forests but are usually found on highly acidic soil where the nutrients are less available to plants. In taiga or boreal forests, it is too cold for the organic matter in the soil to decay rapidly, so the nutrients in the soil are less easily available to plants, thus favouring evergreens.

In temperate climates, evergreens can reinforce their own survival; evergreen leaf and needle litter has a higher carbon-nitrogen ratio than deciduous leaf litter, contributing to a higher soil acidity and lower soil nitrogen content. These conditions favour the growth of more evergreens and make it more difficult for deciduous plants to persist. In addition, the shelter provided by existing evergreen plants can make it easier for younger evergreen plants to survive cold and/or drought.[2][3][4]

Evergreen plants and deciduous plants have almost all the same diseases and pests, but long-term air pollution, ash and toxic substances in the air are more injurious for evergreen plants than deciduous plants (for example spruce Picea abies in European cities).

Idiomatic use

Owing to the botanical meaning, the idiomatic term "evergreen" refers to something that perpetually renews itself, or otherwise remains steady and constant (it does not suddenly halt or "die off", as leaves on a deciduous tree). An "evergreen market", for example, is one where there is a constant, renewed demand for an item or items (such as food), as opposed to a market which is expected to saturate eventually (such as land).

See also


  1. ^ Ewers, F. W. & Schmid, R. (1981). Longevity of needle fascicles of Pinus longaeva (Bristlecone Pine) and other North American pines. Oecologia 51: 107–115.
  2. ^ Aerts, R. (1995). The advantages of being evergreen. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 10 (10): 402–407.
  3. ^ Matyssek, R. (1986) Carbon, water and nitrogen relations in evergreen and deciduous conifers. Tree Physiology 2: 177–187.
  4. ^ Sobrado, M. A. (1991) Cost-Benefit Relationships in Deciduous and Evergreen Leaves of Tropical Dry Forest Species. Functional Ecology 5 (5): 608–616.

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

There is more than one place called Evergreen:

United States of America

  • Evergreen (Alabama) - a town in the state of Alabama.
  • Evergreen (Colorado) - a town in the state of Colorado.
  • Evergreen Park (Illinois) - a town in the state of Illinois.
  • Evergreen (Louisiana) - a town in the state of Louisiana.
  • Evergreen (Wisconsin) - a town in the state of Wisconsin.
  • Evergreen Township (Michigan) - a township in the state of Michigan.

This article is a disambiguation page. If you arrived here by following a link from another page you can help by correcting it, so that it points to the appropriate disambiguated page.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

EVERGREEN, a general term applied to plants which are always in leaf, as contrasted with deciduous trees which are bare for some part of the year (see Horticulture). In X. a temperate or colder zones where a season favourable to vegetation is succeeded by an unfavourable or winter season, leaves of evergreens must be protected from the frost and cold drying winds, and are therefore tougher or more leathery in texture than those of deciduous trees, and frequently, as in pines, firs and other conifers, are needle-like, thus exposing a much smaller surface to the drying action of cold winds. The number of seasons for which the leaves last varies in different plants; every season some of the older leaves fall, while new ones are regularly produced. The common English bramble is practically evergreen, the leaves lasting through winter and until the new leaves are developed next spring. In privet also the leaves fall after the production of new ones in the next year. In other cases the leaves last several years, as in conifers, and may sometimes be found on eleven-year-old shoots.

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Simple English

Evergreen, Colorado is also the name of a town in the United States.

An evergreen plant is a plant that keeps its leaves over the winter. Most plants lose their leaves in autumn.


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