I've been looking around and cannot find a definite answer on what it is that tells trees to change their metabolism and drop leaves. I see that such activity is called Deciduous.

What interests me are the specific mechanisms by which a tree knows that it's time to drop leaves. Is it photoperiod shortening (day duration?) Is it temperature changing metabolism? Is it build up of some toxic compound?

Thank you for your input!

  • $\begingroup$ For answers, also see the duplicate what is the mechanism behind plants losing their leaves?. $\endgroup$ Apr 16, 2015 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ FYI: "Deciduous" is not the activity itself of losing leaves. (The activity is called "abscission.") Rather, "deciduous" is an adjective that describes the types of trees that display abscission. $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2016 at 22:13

1 Answer 1


Here is a good USDA link:


It would appear that the shortening days are a main trigger, and there are other factors. I did a basic search using Google for "what triggers leaf fall in deciduous trees?", since I always thought temperature and changing seasons were major triggers and wanted to double check.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .