Deciduous woodlands

Deciduous woodlands contain trees with broad leaves such as oak, beech and elm. They occur in places with high rainfall, warm summers and cooler winters and lose their leaves in winter.

Characteristics and climate

Temperate deciduous forests are found between 40° and 60° north and south of the equator.

See where deciduous forests are found across the world on this biomes map.

The rainfall is high, between 500-1,500 mm a year. The temperatures remain on average above 0°C even in the winter. The summer temperatures average between 25-20°C. The winter is cooler, encouraging the trees to shed their leaves.

Bar graph showing the amount of rainfall over each month in a deciduous woodland

Rainfall in a deciduous woodland

 

The trees have typically large broad leaves, such as oak, beech and elm. These form the canopy layer.

As some light can get through, the vegetation is layered. Beneath the taller trees is a shrub layer. The shrub layer contains species like hazel, ash and holly.Grass, bracken or bluebells can be found in the ground layer.

Holm oak leaves and acorns

Holm oak leaves and acorns

 

Bluebell wood

A wood showing ground layer of bluebells and top canopy layer of tall trees

Soils in deciduous woodland

The soil type is brown earth. This is a fertile soil. In the autumn the leaves fall from the trees. The leaves decompose and help to give the soil its nutrients. Earthworms in the soil help to mix the nutrients, and blend the layers within the soil.

Rich Soil and Humus

 

The tree roots are deep and so help to break up the rock below. This helps to give the soil more minerals. The trees take up the nutrients in the soil as they grow. However, more nutrients are put back in the soil when the autumn comes.

 

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