Deciduous means to shed or to fall off; trees of the deciduous biome shed their leaves once in a year. The deciduous biomes are located in between the Polar Regions and the tropics. Deciduous forests are found in the eastern part of the United States and large areas of Europe. The deciduous biome has four seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter. They have warm summers and cold usually snowy winters. Plants in these climates have special features of adaptations to cope with the yearly weather changes.
The trees of the deciduous biome include broadleaf and evergreen trees. The broadleaf deciduous are like the maple, oak, hickory and beech and the evergreens are the hemlock, spruce and fir. In typical deciduous forests there are three to four or sometimes five layers of plant growth.
The top layer of the canopy comprises of the tall deciduous trees. Though this layer is quite thick it allows passage of sunlight to reach the forest floor, encouraging the other layers to grow. The second layer comprises of the shorter kinds of trees. The third layers are shrubs while the fourth layer is the forest herbs. These herbs are wildflowers and berries. The fifth layer is the mosses and lichens that grow on tree trunks.
Deciduous forest plant adaptations:
The trees of the deciduous forest shed their leaves once in a year and during the dry or cold season the leaves are grown back in the spring and summer. The deciduous trees have broad leaves like in ash, beech, maple and oak.
In the spring the deciduous trees bear thin, broad light-weighted leaves. These leaves can easily capture sunlight that is necessary for food production by the process of photosynthesis.
In summer, the broad leaves help in food production.Drop in temperatures causes the trees to cut off the supply of water to the leaves and they area between the leaf stem and the tree trunk is sealed off. Due to limited sunlight and water the leaves are unable to produce the green pigment chlorophyll and this causes them to change into red, yellow and orange leaf colors of the fall.
Exposure of the broad leaves to the cold temperatures leads to water loss and tissue damage. To prevent his damage the deciduous trees make physiological and physical adaptations which are triggered by changes in the climate. During the winter season, the temperatures drop too low and the trees to protect their leaves from freezing simply shed their leaves and seal the places where the leaves attach to the branch. This method of losing leaves helps to conserves water loss through transpiration process. Before the complete death of the leaves, the food material in the leaves are drawn back into the twigs and branches, this food is stored and used until the following spring.
In the warmer temperatures of the spring, the trees grow back new leaves and restart the cycle.