How do tree branches grow

Will a Tree’s Branches Rise as It Grows?

Like all other organisms, trees grow and change over time. The tiny seedling you plant today will turn into a lush, vibrant sapling within a year or two. Fast forward a couple of decades, and you’ll see a mature tree; wait a century and you’ll see a towering behemoth, stretching high into the sky.

But this growth and development doesn’t happen in a haphazard fashion. In fact, trees grow in very specific ways. One of the interesting ramifications of this fact is that tree branches do not rise with the tree as it grows. A branch will always be the same height as it was the day it emerged from the trunk as a little bud.

How Do Trees Grow?

To understand how trees grow, let’s first examine the way another type of plant – grass – grows to help illustrate the point.

Grass blades grow from the bottom, near the ground. This means that when you break out the lawnmower and cut the tops of the blades, the biologically important parts of the blades remain unharmed. The blades will grow a little over the course of the next week or two, but if you look closely, you’ll see that the tops of the blades have not changed or grown at all – they’ll still bear the scars of the mower’s blade.

Trees grow in the opposite fashion; they grow from the top. Specialized cells in the ends of each tree shoot (including the primary leader) form areas called meristems. These meristems are the locations from which a tree grows taller and limbs grow longer. If you were to cut a tree like you cut grass, the meristems would be removed and the tree could no longer grow taller/longer.

But because trees grow from their most distal ends, it means that the branches arising from the trunk will never climb higher. If a branch sprouts 3 meters from the ground, it will still be 3 meters from the ground next year.

Note that trees also have another type of meristem, that encircles the trunk and branches and resides beneath the bark. These meristems are responsible for lateral growth (they allow the trunk and branches to increase in diameter).

They May Not Move, But They May Disappear

Just because tree branches do not rise as a tree grows doesn’t mean they will always be there – many trees shed their lowest branches as they grow.

This can occur for a number of different reasons. The tree’s lowest branches are usually its oldest branches, so the lowest branches have been exposed to weather, pests and pathogens for longer than any of the others, which means they’ll likely begin decaying first. Once the branch starts to experience significant decay, the limb is shed to help prevent the decay from spreading into the trunk.

Trees may also shed their lower limbs in response to a reduction in sun exposure. As trees grow taller, they upper branches begin blocking a lot of the sunlight that formerly bathed the lower branches. Unable to maintain photosynthesis, the limb slowly dies and is shed by the tree.

What Can You Do About Low Tree Branches?

While they occasionally make for a good place to hang a swing or bird feeder, low tree branches are often problematic to property owners. They can block entrances, exits or windows; hang precariously over driveways and sidewalks; or provide a conduit for rodents to travel around your property.

Fortunately, skilled arborists can remove the lower branches from many trees — a technique called crown raising. However, great care must be used. Removing a large meter-high branch is a much more significant endeavor than snipping off a tiny branch at the edge of the canopy. Small, young branches are less likely to decay after being pruned than large branches near the bottom of the tree are, so these types of tasks are best left to professional arborists.


If you are experiencing problems with low tree branches, give your friends at Trav’s Tree Service a call. We’ll examine the trees and branches in question and help you determine the best path forward. If removing the limb turns out to be the best option, you can rest assured that your tree will be pruned by skilled professionals, who know how to give your tree the best chance for a long, healthy life.

How Trees Grow | Tree Care Kit

Mary L. Duryea and Marlene M. Malavasi School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

What is tree growth?

Trees have six organs: leaves, stems and roots (vegetative structures) and flowers, fruits, and seeds (reproductive structures). Tree growth is the increase in size and numbers of the vegetative structures. Trees use the sun, carbon dioxide, water, and minerals to produce sugars.  Sugars are the building blocks of tree growth. As a result, tree growth is as much a response to the environment as it is to the trees genetic make-up.

Where does growth occur?

Growth occurs in meristems. A meristem is a tissue containing cells that have the capacity to divide to make new cells. In general, during growth cells divide, cells elongate, and cells differentiate into structures such as roots and shoots. Meristems can also produce new meristems called primordia. For example, an apical meristem in a bud produces new meristems called leaf primordial.  Each leaf primordium will grow into a new leaf.

Above Ground Growth

Shoot Growth.

Shoots elongate or grow in height at the tips of the branches. Apical meristems are located in the terminal buds at the tips of the branches. Cells at the apical meristem divide, elongate and differentiate in distinctly visible steps: (1) The bud at the tip of the branch opens, (2) Leaves emerge and enlarge, and (3) The area between the leaves expands (i.e., the stem grows). Lateral (side) buds grow in the same way but often these are dormant and do not grow until they are released after such activities as pruning.

Leaf growth

On the surface of the apical meristem in the bud, a new meristem is formed. This new meristem is called a leaf primordium where cells divide and grow into a leaf. Soon after leaves develop, a new bud primordium (meristem) is formed at the base of each leaf stem. Once formed, this auxiliary bud has the capacity to become a branch, but may lie dormant for many years.

Diameter growth

Between the wood and bark is a thin layer of dividing meristematic cells called the vascular cambium. The cambium divides producing new wood towards the inside and bark on the outside. These new cells increase the diameter of the trunk and branches. The new wood cells, called xylem, carry water and minerals up from the roots to the leaves. The old wood in the middle is the heartwood.  Heartwood, while dead, supports the weight of the tree. The inner bark cells, called phloem, carry sugars and other materials to the growth and storage locations of the tree.

Image 1. Illustration of a tree’s diameter growth.

New layers of wood are added each year between the bark and the previous year’s wood. These are called growth or annual rings and may be used to age a tree. Annual rings vary in size and thickness according to the season that they are formed. Cells that are produced in the spring are larger with thinner cell walls. These are the light-colored rings, and the wood is called “early” or “spring” wood. Cells produced in the summer are smaller, and this “late” or “summer” wood has a higher density and darker color.

All woody trees have an outer bark that constantly renews itself and protects the tree from pest attacks and environmental impacts such as fire and mechanical injury. Some trees have thick bark that is resistant to injury. Others are easily injured because they have thin bark. As the tree grows in thickness, the outer part has to give, forming ridges and cracks in the bark. Eventually the outer bark sloughs off.

Growth below ground

Roots can grow in length diameter, and number. At the tip of a root is the root cap. This cap protects the root and must be constantly replaced as a root pushes through the soil. Behind the root cap is a meristem which produces new cells for the root cap and for root elongation. These new cells elongate, divide and differentiate into root parts as it pushes through the soil.

Root diameter growth is similar to growth in the stem with the vascular cambium producing wood (xylem) and bark (phloem). A couple differences between root and shoot diameter growth are: (1) cambial growth is much more irregular in roots resulting in roots that are oval or irregular in cross section, and (2) there is greater variation in diameter with age and with horizontal roots compared to vertical roots.

Roots can also grow new lateral roots that form and branch off the main root. Some cells located in a layer inside the root produce a new root primordium. This new meristem divides and elongates pushing the root out through the parent root.

Physiological Process

During the process of transpiration, water evaporates from the foliage through openings in leaves called stomata pulling adjoining water molecules with it. This pulling action helps draw water and nutrients up the trunk and into the leaves. In addition, some trees may be capable of exerting a pumping action to push water up the tree.

Photosynthesis, carried out in foliage, twigs and other green plant parts, produces sugars (and other components) that are used by the tree to carry out its many functions. Sugars, growth regulators, and proteins are moved about the plant in the phloem. Once sugar arrives at a location, it is used as energy for normal processes or it is stored as starch for later use. Trees need stored starch to carry out normal functions, especially to break dormancy in temperate trees.


Tree species have a wide range of lifespan. For example, while peach trees may live only 30 years, oaks may live 200 years, cypress 1,600 years, and bristle cone pine up to 5,000 years in an undisturbed site in the forest. The average tree in urban settings, however, has only one tenth the lifespan of a tree at a rural site.

When a tree ages: (1) Growth slows down; (2) Trees are more susceptible to diseases and insects; (3) The tops of the trees are more likely to die back; (4) Wounds compartmentalize more slowly; (5) There are fewer numbers of leaves relative to the size of the tree; and (6) There is an increased number of dead branches. All of these characteristics can also be seen in urban trees as they begin to die and/or show signs of poor health.


Bell, A.D. 1991. Plant Form: An Illustrated Guide to Flowering Plant Morphology. Oxford Univ. Press. New York. 341 pp.

Fahn, A. 1991. Plant Anatomy. Fourth edition. Pergamon Press. Oxford. 588 pp.

Harris, R.W. 1992. Integrated Management of Landscape Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. 2nd edition. Prentice-Hall. New Jersey. 674 pp.

Kozlowski, T.T., P.J. Kramer and S.G. Pallardy. 1991. The Physiological Ecology of Woody Plants. Academic Press. New York. 657 pp.

Laetsch, W.M. 1979. Plants – Basic Concepts in Botany. Little, Brown and Company. Boston. 510 pp.

Mosbrugger, V. 1990. The Tree Habit in Land Plants. In: S. Bhattacharji, G.M. Friedman, H.J. Neugebauer, and A. Seilacher (eds.). Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences , Vol. 28. Springer-Verlag. Berlin. 161 pp.

Wilson, B.F. The Growing Tree. 1984. Univ. Mass. Press. Amherst. 138 pp.

How a tree grows

Wood is a valuable, environmentally friendly material

Tree is a perennial large plant consisting of roots, trunk and crown. During the life of a tree, they perform their functions, and then have various applications in industry.
Wood tissue, consisting of lignified cells, is called wood, which is a valuable material for various products.

Trees among the plants of our planet are the longest-lived and largest, grow on large areas of land and even in shallow waters. The age of some tree species (California sequoia, long-lived pines, African baobabs, Indian banyans) can be up to several millennia. Trees, like other plants, grow from tiny seeds, but unlike other species become mighty giants. Powerful roots hold the tree in the soil, from which they absorb water and minerals, which then enter through the trunk into the crown of leaves, where photosynthesis takes place.

The tree grows in height due to the lengthening tops of the branches - the formation of new cells occurs on top of the old ones. The branch that grows out of the trunk will remain at the same level, and there will be grow new branches. The tree also grows in width - the diameter of the trunk is constantly increasing. Between the bark and the wood there is a special thin layer of cambium, which consists of living cells, constantly creating new cells. This layer is present on the entire surface of the tree - in the roots, trunk, branches and provides them with continuous growth and development. The cambium is made up of different types of living cells - some by dividing ensure the growth of wood inside, while others provide the formation of bark from the outside. The bark periodically bursts, falls off, is updated. Main stem growth is wood (10:1), the volume of which increases through the formation of new layers of cells. The layers of living cells of the cambium die off, leaving lignified walls (like corals), which form the bulk of the wood. On the cut of the trunk, successively changing light and dark rings are clearly visible. Light rings consist of larger cells formed in spring and in early summer. The dark rings are made up of smaller cells that formed in late summer. The number of rings indicates the age of the tree.

Cross section of a tree trunk consists of heartwood, heartwood, sapwood, cambium and bark. The main raw materials for woodworking industries are the core and sapwood. tree species that have core (oak, pine, larch, etc.) are called core, and the rest, which do not have a difference between the peripheral and central parts of the trunk (birch, maple, etc.), are called sapwood.

In industry, from the leaves (needles) of the tree, vitamin flour, medicines are obtained, from the branches - chips for fibreboard and container board, the trunk, the most valuable in in the woodworking industry, part of the tree is used to make lumber, the roots are used for second-rate fuel, the bark is used to make plugs, floats, construction heat-insulating plates, mats, bast, ropes, etc. are made from the bast of the bark.

Modern technologies make it possible to produce a unique, durable, waterproof material from various types of wood - laminated particle boards (LDSP), which are used in production of cabinet furniture and other industries. Woodworking residues are mixed with formaldehyde resin and heated. From the mixture, plates of the required thickness are formed, which are then laminated with a special protective film. The result is a very durable material with excellent decorative qualities that imitates beautiful expensive woods, the cost which is much cheaper.

Added: May 31, 2014 © 2007 - 2015 | Chipboard sale in Moscow: +7(915)374-19-79

How trees grow - Animal world

A tree grows in height, building new cells on top of old ones. If a tree branch has grown at a height of a meter above the ground, then it will always remain at the same height.

If a nail is driven into a young tree, will it rise as the tree grows?

A nail driven into the trunk or a peg tied to the trunk will always remain at the same height. But the tree also grows in thickness, it is able, gradually overgrowing, to absorb such objects, after years they will be inside the trunk.

Can a hollow tree continue to grow?

This happens quite often - hollow, scorched or diseased trees continue to grow. Regardless of the age of the tree, its growth in thickness occurs due to the cambium, a single-row layer of green cells located under the bark and phloem. (The cambium is clearly visible on young branches if you carefully remove their delicate skin with a knife or fingernail.) Whatever happens to the core of a tree, it will live and grow as long as the cambium is intact. Of course, in the end such a tree will fall, because it also needs the layers of wood inside as a support.

Why does a tree need bark?

When the ground fire rages and the fire gets close to the giant sequoias, their thick bark protects them from damage. For many trees, the thick bark can provide some protection from fire. But this is just one example of the protective role she plays.

When damaged, the bark of many conifers releases a resin that heals the wound and prevents pathogenic fungi and other pathogens from entering it. The hard, tough bark protects the tree and prevents parasitic plants from taking root. In addition, the delicate living layer of the tree is, as it were, covered from the sun and wind.

The most remarkable bark is in plants of the eucalyptus family, trees and shrubs. When damaged, the eucalyptus bark releases resinous substances. It protects the tree well from fire. If the leaves burn out, then often new ones can appear from the so-called dormant buds hidden in the bark of the tree.

Tree trunk and its layers

The tree trunk serves as a piping system and supports. The thinnest layer, the cambium, is probably the most important, since it produces all the others. When the cambium cells divide, the outer cells become the phloem, through which sugars are delivered to all parts of the tree. The old phloem becomes the bark. The inner cells of the cambium become xylem, through which water moves in the tree. Young xylem cells form the sapwood, while old cells form the heartwood.

Cambium - a thin layer of the educational tissue of the trunk. This is where all other cells originate.

Phloem lies directly under the bark. Sugars move down this fibrous tissue from the leaves.

The bark of covers the outside of the trunk, insulating it and protecting the tree from diseases.

Sapwood - water moves upward from the roots, it is usually lighter than the heartwood.

Heartwood is aged sapwood; together they form a xylem. The core makes up most of the trunk.

How does water move up a tree?

Many meters sometimes separate the roots of a tree from the leaves of its crown. But the tree doesn't have a pump, so how do you get water upstairs? But some trees manage to do this, and even at a fantastic speed - more than 30 meters per hour.

The beginning of this path comes from the root hairs, which absorb water due to osmotic forces. The root hair cells contain dissolved sugars and salts, and water enters them from the surrounding soil to balance the osmotic pressure.

Thanks to this pressure in the root hairs, water flows upward, from one cell to another, through the roots and trunk of the tree to its very top.

The pressure of the water multiplies another force. When a tree grows, water evaporates through its leaves. Of the total volume of water passing through the tree, only 1% is required for photosynthesis, and the remaining water simply evaporates. This creates a partial vacuum, quickly filled with water rising from the roots.

How to determine the age of a tree without cutting it down

To determine the age of a tree, you do not need to cut it. The foresters have a tool - a special hollow drill, the principle of operation, like a brace. The tree trunk is drilled with a drill to its core, and then removed. Inside it remains a column of wood, in which there is a complete set of annual rings.

You can also determine the age of a tree by measuring its girth at a height of 1-1.5 m above the ground. The average growth of a tree not in a dense forest per year is 2.5 cm. Therefore, it can be calculated that a tree with a trunk girth of 1 meter grows for about 40 years.

Is it possible to know the age of branches?

The growth of trees in height is due to the lengthening of the branches, in which the top grows. In deciduous trees, a new bud appears at the end of a branch before the top leaf falls off. In the spring (during the rainy season) these buds burst and new leafy shoots appear. The place from which in each season the branch begins its growth is easily distinguished by the scar at the base of the annual growth, and by counting such scars, one can determine the age of the branch.

Tree Rings

Trees in temperate climates grow most vigorously in spring, when the thin-walled cells that make up the xylem grow rapidly. On the cut of the trunk, these cells form light circles - the so-called spring wood. At the end of summer, growth slows down and the cells become smaller and their walls thicken. The cells of this summer wood are visible on the cut as darker circles. Each ring, light and dark, corresponds to half a growing season, and the age of a tree can be determined by counting them. Each pair corresponds to one year.

Unforeseen circumstances disrupt the correct order of ring formation. Severe droughts, late frosts, pest infestations, and all sorts of other troubles can cause a tree to shed all its leaves after the start of the growing season, and growth may not resume until the next year.

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