Needles, Not Leaves: Why Pine Trees Developed Needles

If you ever find yourself taking a walk through a healthy forest, you will no doubt notice that every tree is different. Some are tall while others are short, some are bare while others are full, and some of these trees have leaves while others have needles.

Blue Spruce Tree Nursery in ColoradoYes, trees are very different, especially when it comes to their coverings, but have you ever wondered why? Why would a tree decide to grow needles instead of leaves? The answer is really quite simple: it’s all about survival.

That’s right, some trees, especially blue spruce trees and other conifer breeds started growing needles more than 250 million years ago when the Earth’s climate began getting colder and drier, particularly in more northern and southern extremes, as Friends of Trees notes. To battle this climate change, these trees started developing needles which retain more water than leaves can.

In reality, asking the difference between needles and leaves is really a trick question, because although it doesn’t look like it, a needle is actually a form of leaf. Needles and leaves perform many of the same activities for trees. They both capture sunlight and they both take in carbon dioxide and put out oxygen, but the big difference is that needles do not drop in the fall and they can stick around – sometimes for years. In essence, needle-bearing trees are ready for anything.

In many cases, needles are better than leaves because they can retain more water, they can survive harsh winters, they have lower wind resistance and they are more resistant to the mouths of tree-harming insects. Now that you know this new information, what would you rather have – needles or leaves?

While you ponder that question, Spruce Point Tree Farm has some of the finest Colorado blue spruce trees in the state. We’ve got a full range of trees for landscapers and retailers. Find out where you can find our trees near you by giving us a call today at 970-379-2241.