Development and Growth of a Tree

How to start this article? I am going to do it to honor a plant as spectacular as the tree. These beings that, apparently immobile, carry with them a little universe, a world in which insects of all kinds live with it, in which the wind helps the leaves to fall in autumn so that the trunk can look better, in which the rains, sometimes so longed for, quench its thirst and help you grow.

A tree is life at its best. But how do they take their first steps in this world?

Table of Contents

  • 1 What is the birth of a tree like?
  • 2 Stages of tree growth
    • 2.1 Kids
    • 2.2 Youth
    • 2.3 Maturity
    • 2.4 Old age
  • 3 What is the life cycle of a tree?
    • 3.1 How long does a tree live?
  • 4 How can we know that the tree is growing?

What is the birth of a tree like?

Tamarind is a fast growing tree

Image – Wikimedia / Manjithkaini

On Earth there are many types of climates, each with its own peculiarities. But in temperate regions, where plants must face significant challenges to survive frost, they are perhaps where the different phases that a tree seed goes through to germinate and grow are best seen. So, this story that I’m going to tell you has as its protagonist a tree, no matter the species, that lives in an area where winters are very, very cold:

Fall day. The first storms arrive, and with them the temperatures begin to drop. Our tree, aware that it will not be able to continue its normal activities soon, begins to slow down the pace, and gradually stops feeding the leaves, which are losing chlorophyll at the same time that they change color. A beautiful landscape to human eyes, but that herald difficult times for the tree.

But all is not so bad. The flowers that opened in spring were pollinated, and to this day, they have become seeds, which with the help of the wind fall to the ground. They may travel a few kilometers apart, or they may reach some very far place across a river. While they distance themselves from their parents, the days, the weeks go by …

Until the first songs of the birds are heard, the bees begin to work, and the field turns green. The first rays of the sun penetrate the seeds, which, still somewhat lazy, they start to wake up.

Although, the cycle does not end here. These defenseless newly germinated seeds still have many dangers to face: from fungi to insects, passing through small herbivorous animals that will not hesitate to eat any plant that is within their reach. For this reason, when humans grow them, one of the first things they have to do is treat them with powdered copper or sulfur, since otherwise, they will have great difficulties to overcome the first year of life.

Stages of tree growth

From the sowing, be it natural, or carried out by the human being, the tree goes through different stages or phases throughout its life:


Trees sprouted in nature have a harder time surviving

In this phase it will be called the first seedling when it still has the cotyledons, and seedling when it loses them (even if it has already taken its first true leaves). It is the most difficult stage for him, since it is when he is weakest and most vulnerable to pests. At the beginning it will obtain its food from the cotyledons, but as soon as these have withered, it will do so from the nutrients obtained by its roots..

His growth rate tends to be faster now than in the rest of his life, precisely because he needs to gain strength and size at a good rate in order to continue.


Young trees have already passed their worst stage

Image – Flickr / BBC World Service

After 2-5 years (it will depend on the species and its growth rate) its survival rate increases considerably. It is when he finally has a defined trunk, which will already be woody. It will not yet be ripe to flower, but its crown will gain in branches and, with them, numerous new leaves that, during the photosynthesis process, will give it a lot of energy that it will use to produce more branches and leaves, and to widen its trunk.


When a tree blooms, it is considered mature

A tree is considered mature when it first blooms time. But this, if I may, I think is not entirely true, because the fact that it produces flowers does not necessarily mean that it can produce fruit. Although there are many reasons for this to happen, if we start from the fact that this tree has been obtained by seed, and although the right conditions are in place for it to bear fruit, it is normal that it still costs a little to produce those fruits.

In this stage, its roots and leaves are working at full capacity, absorbing moisture from the earth some, and obtaining gases from the atmosphere as well as solar energy others.

Old age

The tree also grows old

Image – Wikimedia / Snufkinit

Like all living things, the tree will also age. It will be when it produces fewer and fewer flowers until the time comes when it stops wasting energy on them. His defense system will slowly betray him, thus making him, once again, very vulnerable to pests and diseases. Insects, fungi, bacteria and viruses will be responsible for weakening it and may even be the ones that put an end to its life.

As soon as you run out of it, they will continue to do their job, but this time in order to speed up their decomposition process. But if for the tree it is the end, for many other forms of life it is the beginning: in fact, its dry trunk becomes a refuge for squirrels and other small animals, and the space it has left free, stimulates the growth of other plants.

What is the life cycle of a tree?

The life cycle of a tree is the following:

  • Seed
  • Germination
  • Growth
  • Ripening (flowering and fruiting)
  • Aging
  • And finally death

There are species that can begin to bloom from the year of life, others will do so after 5 years, and others will take longer, but once they start to do so, they will bloom every year until shortly before the end of their days.

How long does a tree live?

Are you curious to know what is the life expectancy of a tree? Well, the truth is that it depends a lot on the genus and the species. But here you have a list of some of them (of course, keep in mind that those ages are approximate, and will also depend on the conditions of the place, as well as cultivation if they are used as garden plants):

  • Acacia: about 40-50 years, maximum 60. 
  • Adamsonia (baobab): more than 1500 years. 
  • Albizia: about 50-70 years. 
  • Brachychiton: about 50-60 years. 
  • Fagus (beech): more than 200 years, usually around 250.
  • Olea (olive trees and wild olive trees): more than 1700 years. 
  • Prunus (cherry, almond, etc.): about 40-50 years. .
  • Quercus (oaks, holm oaks, etc.): about 1000 years.
  • Sequoia (redwoods): more than 3000 years. 

How can we know that the tree is growing?

The trees grow day by day

Growth implies movement, but if we take into account that plants live on a different time scale than ours, it is logical that, often, it is difficult for us to know if they are growing or not. Y the truth is that, day by day, every second, the trees are performing their vital functions, how to breathe or do the photosynthesis. Only in the most unfavorable times, such as snowy winters or the dry season in tropical regions, do they slow down. If they didn’t, they would die.

Therefore, in human eyes, the easiest and »fastest» way to know if they are growing is to measure their height every few months and leave it written down somewhere (notebook, computer, …). It is interesting to leave the date of the annotations written, since this information will help to know in which time of year they grow more and in which less, which in turn will be very useful to better plan the fertilizing season.

Another thing that can be done is to observe them for a little while each day: see if they are producing new branches and / or leaves, and if so, see how they are developing.

And with this we are done. We hope it has been useful to you. But before we go, enjoy the best gardening and nature phrases:

Development and Growth of a Tree

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