Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Deciduous Gymnosperms
Name: J. R.
Status: student
Age: 15
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1/15/2004

What type of evergreen tree looses its needles?

If the tree is "evergreen" then by definition it does NOT lose needles. A few coniferous - the distinction is in the method of producing seeds - trees are deciduous, which means losing leaves in some part of the seasonal cycle, usually winter. In the northeastern U.S. we have tamarack, in the southeast bald cypress, and in the northwest larches.

J. Elliott

Tamarack or larch (Larix laricina) is an example of a conifer ("evergreen") that is deciduous (loses its needles in the autumn).

Also technically even "evergreen" trees lose their needles but the new needles are already in place:

Anthony R. Brach

You can look for a good answer to this in any dendrology text, either at your school or the local library.

In short, larches (genus Larix) are deciduous conifers. There are others in various areas of the world.

It is interesting to note that even those conifers which are not classified as 'deciduous'... that even they lose needles after a few years. You may have seen white pines, particularly in September/October, losing some of the older needles while retaining the rest of the canopy. The needles, which function to produce sugar and eventually wood, do not live forever, and each year a small part of the canopy is shed, having been replaced or expanded by growth in the spring of the prior and the spring to follow.

Thanks for using NEWTON!

Ric Rupnik

Click here to return to the Botany Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory