Guide to How Trees Grow

how trees grow

Tree Structures

While a tree might appear to be one solid piece, it is actually composed of several different parts that each serve their own important function.

  • The roots of a tree anchor it to the ground and absorb water and nutrients from the soil, which are then transferred to all other parts of the tree.
  • A tree’s trunk raises the branches and leaves above the ground. This allows it to reach more sunlight, creating more energy. The trunk also transports nutrients to other areas of the tree and serves as protection from bugs and predators.
  • Tree leaves are used to maximize the surface area of a tree that is exposed to sunlight. They are specialized for photosynthesis, the process in which a tree turns sunlight into energy.
  • Seeds are the primary method through which trees reproduce. Their forms vary greatly from tree to tree.
  • The buds of a tree are underdeveloped shoots or branches that are covered by scaly leaves.

From Seed to Tree

Like all living things, trees have a natural life cycle that lasts from conception to death. Unlike humans, however, trees are renewable. Their life cycle begins again after their death through artificial planting or the natural generation and spreading of new seeds.

Seeds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on their parent tree. Some are contained inside nuts like acorns and pecans, while others are found in fruit like cherries and persimmons.

If a seed finds a suitable environment for growth, a root emerges and grows downward into the soil. The root searches for sources of water and nutrients which are then converted into the energy the infant tree uses to sprout.

The sprout emerges from the ground in search of sunlight which it can synthesize into even more energy. As the sprout grows and develops woody characteristics, it is referred to as a seedling. Seedling roots grow down and out in the soil to absorb available water and nutrients, but also to collect oxygen.

Trees are referred to as saplings once they are about one to four inches in diameter and roughly four or five feet tall. Saplings are not mature enough to produce seeds of their own, but grow rapidly into their adult phase of life. When a tree reaches maturity it begins to develop flowers and fruit, each producing the materials needed to reproduce and start the cycle again.

Continued Growth

Adult trees do not grow continuously throughout the year, but instead have short periods of growth followed by periods of rest. This cycle is usually directed by seasonal weather and conditions such as temperature and humidity.

Before going dormant, many trees form buds around areas of growth and the leaves at the ends of twigs develop scales. These structures help protect the youngest parts of the tree.

When conditions become favorable, the buds open or fall apart to reveal new shoots and leaves. The new growths expand rapidly, with some trees undergoing an entire year’s worth of growth in just a few weeks. After many cycles of growth, the process slows down until the tree reaches its maximum size.

Atlanta Tree Services

Whether you planted one on your property or it was there when you bought it, trees can be beautiful but labor-intensive additions to any property. Whether you’re hoping to care for a tree or remove it, the experts as Gunnison Tree Specialists can help. We’re proud to offer a number of tree services, including:

  • Tree removal
  • Stump removal
  • Pruning
  • Insect and disease management
  • Risk assessment
  • Tree preservation

Contact us today for more information or to get your free quote!


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