Find out if tree leaves turn upside down or show undersides before rain!

Do Leaves Turn Upside Down or Show Undersides Before Rain?

August 7, 2018
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Trees are wonders. They help keep our home cool, inspire us on the daily and even communicate with nearby trees using their roots.

So, it doesn’t sound like a stretch that trees could predict the weather, too.

As the old wives’ tale goes, their leaves curl up to signal a big storm is on the way. 

But is it true? Read on to find out! 

  

Nope! Tree Leaves Can't Predict a Storm

While it would be super cool if they could, trees only react to the weather around them. You’ll have to stick to your crystal ball (or weather app!) to see when a storm is coming. 

Do tree leaves turn upside down when it's going to rain? 

“Everybody’s heard about it as you were growing up. Grandparents or parents told you about leaves turning up when a storm was coming,” said Josh Leo of Davey’s North Detroit, Michigan, office in a FOX 2 segment. 

But as a prediction, that’s mostly untrue! We talked to our Davey Institute scientists, and they myth busted this one. 

“Lots of people have seen this happen,” said Chelsi Abbott, a technical advisor at Davey who specializes in plant pathology. “But there’s no supporting research out there to back it up. There also isn’t a physiological reason trees would do this. Not even the increase in humidity would cause this.” 

But why do I see leaves show their undersides before rain?

“Instead of lying flat, leaves seem to almost curl upwards before a storm. Everyone would say that they’re going to be accepting the water that’s coming down, and that’s why they’re doing that. But really, they’re not,” Davey’s Josh Leo said. 

Rather, tree foliage actually gets turned up by another force. Any guesses? It’s the wind. If there’s a significant switch in wind direction right before a storm, you might see their leaves flip over, but that’s it!  

While you’re looking, though, make sure your trees are getting enough water! 

See curling or browning tree leaves? Check if they’re thirsty! 

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