Why the mango tree is shedding too many leaves

Having a large tree in the garden means we get a fair amount of fallen leaves everyday. Usually, it’s no more than a few dozen at a time. Easy enough to rake to keep the grass free from clutter.

Over the past week or so, however, Speedy had been wondering about the tremendous amount of fallen leaves we get. It can’t be the wind. Heaven knows how little wind there is these days although we keep wishing we’d get enough to give us a respite from the summer heat and humidity.

And it can’t be a seasonal thing, either — I mean, there is no autumn in the tropics so what could explain the abnormally large amount of fallen leaves from the mango tree?

It even got more curious when, driving to my brother’s house in the city, we noticed the same thing with large trees lining the streets. Too many fallen leaves. So, it’s not just our mango tree that’s exhibiting this phenomenon.

Above, how our garden looked earlier today — and that’s less than 24 hours since Speedy raked yesterday’s fallen leaves. I was planning on posting the photo just as photo but, what the heck, I decided to find some answers to explain the mess in the garden and came upon the definitions of deciduous, semi-deciduous and evergreen plants.

Deciduous plants are those that lose all its leaves seasonally. And I’m not just talking about trees in parts of the world where there is autumn; deciduous trees in the tropics lose their leaves during the dry season.

Above, a leafless kapok tree somewhere in Tanay in the summer of 2009.

Below, a leafless kapok tree in U.P. Los Baños in the summmer of 2010 (related stories here and here).

kapok tree
kapok tree

So, I’m guessing that the kapok is a deciduous tree.

On the other side of the botanical spectrum are evergreen plants which have leaves all year ’round. Between deciduous and evergreen plants are the semi-deciduous plants which shed off leaves as new ones spurt and grow.

The mango is an evergreen tree as far as I know although there is at least one website that describes it as “nearly evergreen.” Evergreen trees also shed leaves as part of continuous abscission. In botany, abscission is the process by which a plant naturally drops parts that it no longer needs (or no longer needs it) like ripe fruits, dry leaves, flowers after fertilization… It’s a natural mechanism to sustain the health and growth of a plant.

Having read all that, especially the part about abscission, I’m guessing that the unnaturally large amount of fallen leaves in our garden (and other parts of the city) has to do with the very high temperature. Trees can get only enough water deep underground and they have to make do with the water supply. During very hot days, I’m guessing that the water supply runs low. And, as a natural reaction, trees shed off leaves in order to sustain the ones that remain. If anyone has a different theory or explanation, I’d love to read it.

  • crisma

    Hi Connie! Kami rin we have lots of trees sa property…kaimito infront, then santol sa side and back , then one mango tree sa front pa rin, then another at the back, Zapote also at the other side… and a lot of other unidentified trees, dati meron rin lanzones, and marami rin palang palm trees all over….And you can just imagine, if we don’t get to sweep or rake for even just a day– naku, we will be walking on a “carpet of leaves ” Perhaps, the temperature is a factor here, but then, parang sanay na rin kami with this phenomenon because we’ve lived with our trees for so long naman na. However, these days, we water the plants twice a day na.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Weird kasi all the other plants don’t seem to be shedding as much as the mango tree. The other trees are still small and young (compared to the mango tree) but they seem to be, well… “normal.” Seems that only the really big trees are shedding unnaturally…

      • crisma

        I’ll have to ask someone who really knows, ha Connie. Now that also gets me thinking if this leaf shedding has some relation with the tree’s fruit bearing. Hmm, I will try to be more observant here. I hope I can give some answers.

      • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

        I also thought about that — like, in order to conserve resources to allow the tree to bear fruits, it sacrifices the leaves…

        • Lerker

          Ito na yung moment na gagamitin ang talent ni Alex. Gagawa sha ng play. Entitled “Ang Bugtong ng Dahon ng Mangga.” Hehe.

          • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

            hehehe Sasabihin ko nga. :-P