Having a large tree in the garden means we get a fair amount of fallen leaves everyday. Usually, it’s no more than a few dozen at a time. Easy enough to rake to keep the grass free from clutter.
Over the past week or so, however, Speedy had been wondering about the tremendous amount of fallen leaves we get. It can’t be the wind. Heaven knows how little wind there is these days although we keep wishing we’d get enough to give us a respite from the summer heat and humidity.
And it can’t be a seasonal thing, either — I mean, there is no autumn in the tropics so what could explain the abnormally large amount of fallen leaves from the mango tree?
It even got more curious when, driving to my brother’s house in the city, we noticed the same thing with large trees lining the streets. Too many fallen leaves. So, it’s not just our mango tree that’s exhibiting this phenomenon.
Above, how our garden looked earlier today — and that’s less than 24 hours since Speedy raked yesterday’s fallen leaves. I was planning on posting the photo just as photo but, what the heck, I decided to find some answers to explain the mess in the garden and came upon the definitions of deciduous, semi-deciduous and evergreen plants.
Deciduous plants are those that lose all its leaves seasonally. And I’m not just talking about trees in parts of the world where there is autumn; deciduous trees in the tropics lose their leaves during the dry season.
Above, a leafless kapok tree somewhere in Tanay in the summer of 2009.
So, I’m guessing that the kapok is a deciduous tree.
On the other side of the botanical spectrum are evergreen plants which have leaves all year ’round. Between deciduous and evergreen plants are the semi-deciduous plants which shed off leaves as new ones spurt and grow.
The mango is an evergreen tree as far as I know although there is at least one website that describes it as “nearly evergreen.” Evergreen trees also shed leaves as part of continuous abscission. In botany, abscission is the process by which a plant naturally drops parts that it no longer needs (or no longer needs it) like ripe fruits, dry leaves, flowers after fertilization… It’s a natural mechanism to sustain the health and growth of a plant.
Having read all that, especially the part about abscission, I’m guessing that the unnaturally large amount of fallen leaves in our garden (and other parts of the city) has to do with the very high temperature. Trees can get only enough water deep underground and they have to make do with the water supply. During very hot days, I’m guessing that the water supply runs low. And, as a natural reaction, trees shed off leaves in order to sustain the ones that remain. If anyone has a different theory or explanation, I’d love to read it.