Why Do Pine Trees Not Lose Their Leaves?

Updated February 21, 2017

While deciduous trees such as the oak and maple lose their leaves every autumn, evergreen trees like the pine tree remain green throughout the year. Unlike deciduous trees, pine trees do not hibernate in the winter and retain their needles.


Pine trees do not lose their needles because the tree produces a substance similar to antifreeze in its sap that allows them to keep their needles. This antifreeze protects the cells in the needles from getting frost damage.


Some of the distinctive smell of the pine tree comes from this substance that prevents freezing. It also helps the needles on the trees to continue the photosynthesis process that has ceased in the deciduous trees around them.


Pine tree needles do drop, but as a part of the tree's natural cycle. Each type of pine is different, but pine needles live on either a two or five year cycle in which they will change colour and drop off at the end.

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About the Author

David Harris is a writer living in Portland, Ore. He currently is the editor-in-chief of the online magazine Spectrum Culture. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.