Test Your Knowledge - October

Brown pine needles about to be shed
Brown pine needles about to be shed
Karen Russ, ©2008 HGIC

Yes, this is a fall needle drop!

Needle drop occurs as a natural part of the yearly growth cycle of pines.

Needles of narrow-leaved evergreens, such as junipers, pines and arborvitae, may shed their oldest leaves or needles in the late summer or early autumn. Most pine trees drop their needles in the fall, but some species may drop needles at other times also. The natural yellowing of the older needles occurs uniformly from the top to the bottom of the tree. Needles at the tips of the branches stay green. This is a normal part of the plant’s growth cycle, so nothing needs to be done.

The needles on narrow-leaved evergreens usually last about three years, although some juniper needles may last for 10 years or more. Arborvitae and white pine needles turn brown or yellow and drop in the autumn of the second year. Yew (Taxas species) needles commonly turn yellow and drop in the late spring or early summer of the third year. During this time, older needles should be shed and not the current season’s growth. If the new growth is turning yellow or brown, it may be caused by other stresses such as insects or disease.

For more information on fall needle drop, see HGIC 2353, Leaf & Needle Drop.

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