Can a Dead Tree Have Green Leaves in Milton, GA?

Conventional wisdom states that a dead tree will lose all signs of life, including the green leaves on its branches. So it can be confusing when you find a tree you presumed dead with green leaves. Similarly, green leaves on a tree you believed was dying can leave you with many questions.

“Is the tree truly dead?” “Can a dead tree have green leaves?” The premier tree service in Milton, GA, will clear up your confusion in this post.

Green Leaves on Dead Trees: What Is the Truth?

If you’ve ever asked, “Can a dead tree have green leaves?” the answer is no. If the tree is truly dead, it can’t have green leaves. Healthy trees have a complex internal mechanism for producing and maintaining green leaves.

The process involves the transportation of water and nutrients from the roots to the existing leaves. These leaves will help transform the nutrients into energy in the presence of sunlight (photosynthesis).

If the tree is dead, it can’t transport nutrients and it won’t have any leaves to complete the process of photosynthesis and bring forth new leaves.

Apart from the lack of green leaves, dead trees will also have dead, brittle branches that snap easily when you try to bend them. Dead trees won’t have any bark on them, either.

Possible Reasons for Green Leaves on Dead Trees

If you find a dead tree with foliage, there are two possible explanations:

Epiphytic Growth

Epiphytes refer to plants that grow on other plants—including dead trees. Look closely at the growth to confirm you’re really looking at green leaves from the plant.

A Dead Tree Yet to Lose Moisture and Nutrients

Trees don’t die instantly in one day. Therefore, a dead tree will gradually lose moisture and nutrients until it has nothing left to support life. While the moisture and nutrients remain, the tree might grow a few new green leaves. So, you may see new leaves on a dying tree.

In some cases, the dead tree foliage is the tree’s last-ditch attempt to save itself.


If you see greenery on a dead tree, you have to explore the option that the tree wasn’t dead to begin with. Many deciduous trees go dormant in the winter. They shed their leaves and may look like a dead tree. However, they will come back to life in spring.

Some of the top signs that your tree has entered its dormant state include tiny buds on the branches and healthy green cambium underneath the bark. A truly dead tree won’t have any buds, and scraping away the bark will only show you a brown, dry cambium.

What If Your Tree Is Not Dead?

If the tree is not dead, you have to find out why it looked dead in the first place. If in its dormancy, you don’t have to do anything other than wait for spring to arrive. However, if the tree shows signs of distress, you’ll need to work with an experienced arborist on possible solutions.

Get a Definitive Diagnosis for Your Tree

Now you know the answer to “Can a dead tree have green leaves?” However, as we’ve seen above, it’s not always easy to know for certain if you have a dead tree.

Make the best decision for your tree by hiring a certified arborist like us here at Southern Tree Pros for a definitive diagnosis.

Our experienced team will evaluate your tree and tell you the next course of action. We can also recommend trees that don’t lose leaves if your tree’s dormancy triggers your concerns.

Call Southern Tree Pros in Milton, GA, today at (770) 841-1684 to schedule a consultation.


Southern Tree Pros

Our company provides a range of services that covers everything from small residential tree maintenance jobs to large commercial projects. Our Atlanta tree service staff is fully trained and equipped to meet your needs.

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2743 Orchard Knob Dr Atlanta, GA.
(770) 841-1684

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