The Fundamentals of Tree & Shrub Growth

The Fundamentals of Tree Structure and Growth

Have you ever wondered how a tiny acorn can grow into a massive oak tree? It starts from a little sprout that can fit in the palm of your hand and turns into a towering tree taller than you — which is pretty impressive! The tree vascular system plays a massive role in the fundamentals of tree structure and growth, helping to transport the necessary nutrients that make a tree grow tall. The tree care experts at Monster Tree Service explain how tree vascular system structures help with the growth of a tree, review the tree life stages, and share tips for ensuring healthy growth.


The Tree Vascular System’s Role in Growth

The tree vascular system contains two main components: xylem and phloem tissues. These structures inside the tree work together to transport the necessary water and nutrients to stimulate growth and keep the tree functioning at a healthy level. The xylem distributes water and minerals up the tree to leaves for photosynthesis. At the same time, the phloem carries nutrients produced in the leaves down to the roots. Cell division in the central cambium layer of the tree trunk produces xylem and phloem in addition to the layers of the tree trunk that form rings. Over time, cell division in the cambium causes the tree to grow in diameter, while meristem tissues in tree branches trigger new sprouts that cause the tree canopy to grow up and out. Together, these functioning tree structures aid in tree growth and development.


The Life Stages and Growth of a Tree

Trees go through the following growth stages throughout their lifetimes.


The seed is the first life stage of a tree. Seeds are embryonic plants produced through pollination. There are two different types of seeds - gymnosperms are naked seeds without a protective shell, while angiosperms are enclosed in a protective shell. They will vary in appearance depending on the tree species and have the potential to germinate with the proper planting and care.


Germinated seeds turn into sprouts. Spouts grow roots into the soil and pop up above the surface to reach sunlight and develop nutrients.


A spout turns into a seedling when its soft green stem hardens, changes color, and develops a thin layer of bark. In this phase, roots continue to grow.


Saplings are small trees with a trunk diameter smaller than four inches. Saplings experience rapid growth during this phase.

Mature Tree

Different tree species reach maturity at different rates, but a mature tree is typically a few years old. At this stage, a tree can reproduce, disperse seeds, flower, and produce fruit. A mature tree will continue to thrive for years to come, depending on the environmental conditions.


Decline marks the end of a tree’s life cycle. Many tree species can live for hundreds of years. However, a lack of nutrients, poor pruning, and storm damage can leave a tree vulnerable to pest infestations and diseases. You may need to call an arborist to assist with tree removal services if the tree can’t be revived.


Planting Trees for Healthy Growth

Whether you are planting a tree seed, a sapling, or a mature tree, you need to evaluate the environmental conditions to ensure you set your tree up for a lifetime of healthy growth and development. Testing the soil to determine the quality of the soil is always the first step to ensuring healthy plant growth. Sometimes, the soil may need a little extra help to provide optimum growing conditions.


Before selecting a spot to plant your tree, consider the tree species needs, location, and growth potential of the tree within the mature life stages. While it may be a tiny sapling now, it could quickly outgrow its space in a few years. Consider neighboring structures and plant a proper distance away from sidewalks, driveways, and rooflines. When digging a hole to plant your tree, dig a hole about three times larger than the root ball. Separate the roots from the ball to give them an easier start and water frequently during early development stages.


Using the Fundamentals of Tree Structure and Growth to Keep Your Trees Healthy Through Every Life Stage

Trees need attention and care through every life stage. Whether they need plant health care services to provide any particular needs, whether in nutrients or soil amendments, or tree pruning and trimming to rein in a season of growth, your local Monster Tree Service team can assess and assist. Give us a call today to help with all of your trees — young and old!