Blue quandongs and colourful leaves on subtropical rainforest floor, Currumbin Creek Valley
© Auscape/UIG via Getty Image
Leaving it all behind. Nature gets ready for nap time
Now that autumn is in full swing, you’re bound to start seeing plenty of leaves tumble towards the floor - much like today’s image. But contrary to popular belief, autumn leaves don’t simply fall from strong gusts of wind, but are removed during a highly controlled process. Unlike evergreen plants, deciduous species do not have a waxy surface on their leaves to help drive photosynthesis all year long. As a result, these trees prefer to avoid the futile task of keeping individual leaves alive and cut their losses - extracting nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen to survive the upcoming winter. With nothing left in their system, the leaves begin their gentle descent while the tree enters a dormant state until it, ahem, springs back to life.