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Sun and shade leaves



There are numerous growth responses within the physiology and morphology of plant leaves when exposed to different levels of light. These responses can affect both structure and biochemistry. In the case many plants, including Beech trees Fagus sylvatica, it can result in a completely different leaf type: Sun leaves and shade leaves.



Sun leaves have adapted to more exposure to light and will be positioned generally at higher areas on the plant (areas of more light). They usually have two layers of palisade cells (photosynthesising cells) on a thicker and smaller leaf than the shade leaves.




Shade leaves only have one layer of palisade cells and a generally larger leaf surface area. The shade leaves usually have more photosynthetic efficiency than sun leaves, as they contain more chlorophyll. This usually results in the shade leaves looking a darker shade of green than sun leaves.


Considering this, one could assume a beech tree grown in full shade might look completely different to a beech tree in full sun, as the foliage would surely have a different texture if all the leaves were slightly larger or slightly smaller. Worth considering next time you see a Beech hedge.




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