Like all deciduous trees in the fall, their leaves turn colors. Their tan leaves actually contrast nicely with the reds, yellows, and oranges of their flashier neighbors. When I go for a winter walk, I enjoy seeing those tenacious leaves and appreciate their reluctance to leave home.
Botanists have a name for this: marcescence which means the retention of dead leaves that are normally shed. Although they named this phenomenon, they don't understand why it occurs. It mostly happens when the trees are young, so maybe the saplings haven’t developed the knack. That can’t be the only explanation because some tall, old beech and oak trees will drop their leaves from the top branches but not from the bottom. It’s a mystery.
As I photographed them last week, I noticed that the end of the branches often had no leaves but had emerging buds which leads me to believe that those buds pushed the dead leaves off.
Although it’s a mystery to scientists, I believe that these trees know exactly what they're doing.