How Do Trees Survive a Minnesota Winter?

Snow covered tree

Good Morning Monster Tree Service Blog Readers. Today I have done some research for you on the topic of tree survival during the frozen winter months. As history has shown us over and over again, nature finds a way. And a tree’s approach to winter survival is just another startling example of when you start to dig down how complex and almost magical the world is. As to the trees, let’s do a deep dive into the processes….or in this case since I am the one tasked to do the research, we will put our big metaphorical toe into a shallow pool.

Did you know that trees are about half water? Yes, it’s true. Even I know that water will freeze when it gets cold, so how does a living organism which is half water survive. The bottom line is the tree only has to keep its living cells from freezing, not the “dead” ones. (Although if you look at functionality, grand design and usage, the word dead may not be truly precise).

The tree keeps the living cells alive during the winter by three basic ways:

The first way is to change the membrane of the cells so water, which will freeze, can migrate out the cells into the spaces between the cells. This water enters the “killing temperature” and freezes. Clever girl.

The second step is to sweeten the fluids of the living cells. It ramps up the sugar in the living cells which is like an anti-freeze. Uh huh, yup, sure, sure.

The third way the tree keeps the living cells from freezing is accomplished when the living cells become dehydrated because of the first two steps and that puts the living cells into a molecular suspended animation. Wow, didn’t see that coming.

Dormancy accomplished. No need for food, so no use for masses of leaves.

A tree is truly interesting and complex and busy all year long. Always changing, adapting, and growing, and preparing, re-growing, it knows what to do, how to survive, and incredibly, some of the details of this organism are still a mystery to science. Our friends are rather inspiring.