How Exactly Do Trees Grow?

Thursday, March 25, 2021 11:19:40 AM America/Los_Angeles

Trees are an extraordinarily diverse set of living plants that are primarily defined by having a trunk, branches, and leaves or needles. Trees are essential to both our social and natural environment, as they provide food, habitats, and resources. Despite the fact that we’re surrounded by trees and rely on them in our day to day lives, how exactly they grow remains a mystery to many. If you’re stumped about how exactly a tree grows and changes over time, read on to find out more about a tree’s life cycle!

Photo by Ian Keefe

What do trees need to grow?

Trees thrive in their native environments, which can be any ecosystem we have on Earth. This ranges from cities to deserts and even to oceans! However, one thing is for certain: All trees need water. A large majority also need oxygen, but some species like mangroves are known to grow despite inconsistent access to oxygen. With a few exceptions, the large majority of trees also need sun and soil to provide the nutrients they need. 

How do trees reproduce?

Tree seeds can be sneaky! Unlike some other plants, trees typically produce seeds through “offspring” such as fruit. Other common methods of dispersing seeds include cones, pods, flowers, or leaves. Their shape and size vary hugely so there’s no way to generalize how a tree seed looks. Some are found inside the pit of a fruit while others are sprayed through the air when a pod bursts. 

Trees rely heavily on wind, insects, and animals (including humans) to reproduce. Pollination happens primarily thanks to insects, and seed dispersal typically happens with the aid of animals--especially for trees that have edible fruit. Once seeds have been dispersed, germination, or planting, occurs. If conditions are favorable, seedlings successfully transform into trees!

How do older trees change over time?

Generally speaking, trees will grow taller, develop thicker trunks, extend their roots, and spurt more branches as they age. They reproduce as pollination and germination successfully occurs. But unlike animals, trees don’t exactly have a lifespan. Instead, their lifespan is determined by the average longevity of the type of tree. 

This explains why fruit trees tend to have a lifespan of about 50 years; after being continually harvested, they are cut down to make room for a younger tree capable of producing more desirable fruit. Animals, infestations, storms, and fires, are some other reasons why trees deteriorate or die, and the longer a tree lives, the more it must battle these environmental factors. Trees in the wild tend to have longer lifespans because they are less likely to be disturbed by external forces. In fact, the oldest living tree is more than 5,000 years old! 

While trees face numerous challenges in trying to survive--some of them natural and inevitable--we can also foster their growth and reproduction through reforestation efforts and sustainable life choices. Check out our blog to learn more!


Bark Potty partners with 1% for the Planet to donate 1% of our sales to One Tree Planted. 1% for the Planet is a network of businesses that have committed to taking responsibility for the environmental impacts of their various industries. 1% for the Planet encourages businesses to practice corporate responsibility by facilitating donations to grassroots environmental organizations such as One Tree Planted. Each Bark Potty purchase you make further supports our collective efforts to reduce the ecological footprint that humans have left on the environment!