The trees are awakening – what happens in spring

Over winter the trees have been dormant.  They have been in a state of suspension, having shed their leaves, stored nutrients, and turned down food production.  Now the sun is shining longer, the temperature is warming, and the trees are awaking from their long winter’s nap.  They are beginning to prepare for a season of renewal, reproduction, and food production,

One of the first things happening now is the tree roots springing into action.  As the weather warms, the roots begin moving nutrients and water from the soil into the rest of the tree.  As water moves upward, it mixes with simple sugars that have been stored in the tree over winter.  The result is sap (which is what is tapped in late winter for syrup.)

This rising sap feeds the buds that have been set in the previous summer and fall.  These buds will swell and begin to open.  (If you look closely, you can see the red buds on maple trees doing this just now.)  The tree buds open to begin developing the food-processing machine of the tree – the leaf.  Some tree buds will develop into just a leaf, some will develop a flower, and some a leaf, then a flower.

The tree flowers that emerge next are an important stage of the tree’s awaking in the spring.  These flowers are very aromatic and colorful – one of the more pleasant aspects of spring, but like spring ephemeral wildflowers, they will quickly be gone.  The various trees will come into bloom at different times, from the early, miniscule red maple tree flowers to later blooms of the catalpa tree and the locusts.  These flowers do have a very important role, however, in the growth of a tree.  They are the reproductive parts of the tree as they are pollinated and develop into the fruits, nuts, and seeds necessary to grow new trees.

Ultimately, the tree leafs out as spring progresses.  This is the one of the major goals of the awakening tree – to create leaves to manufacture food for the growth of the tree and enable it to continue on through the summer in its continuing cycle of birth, growth, dormancy, and rebirth.  This whole process happens quickly, though, and like the blooming bulbs and spring ephemeral flowers, it will be over before you know it.


If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact the Vermilion Tree Commission by contacting Anne Maiden at the Mayor’s Office at or at 440-204-2402.  You are also cordially invited to attend our monthly Tree Commission meeting which is held on the second Wednesday of the month. The Tree Commission will meet at the Ritter Public Library on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 7:00 PM.


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