How Does a Tree Grow and Develop: A Brief Guide

How does a tree grow? Despite the fact that there are trees almost everywhere, few people can answer this question. In this post, Clark Tree Experts, the leading specialists in tree risk assessment in Mt. Airy, GA, give a brief explanation of every vital part. 


The roots wind their way through soil particles seeking out nutrients and moisture. While most of us have seen a thick tap root, what is less obvious are the tiny root hairs. These microscopic structures begin to grow a little behind the hard tips that spread out, exploring the ground. 

The combination provides the tree with nutrients, moisture, and support. Over the tree’s life span, it will grow an extensive network of roots to soak up dissolved mineral deposits. The root hairs don’t last long, so they are constantly growing and absorbing moisture. 

Depending on the tree species, the tree will have more shallow roots than deep ones. Aside from the tap root, most of the roots are no more than 18 inches below the surface, and more than 50% of these roots reach no deeper than six inches. 

The benefit for the soil is that the roots bind it together, making it better able to resist erosion; the downside is that this leaves the roots vulnerable to environmental conditions and surface disruptions. 


When most people ask, “How does a tree grow?” they automatically think of the trunk. The trunk is one of the most vital parts of the tree because it transports nutrients and moisture from the roots to the upper canopy. 

The inner layer of the trunk is known as the cambium layer. It starts just under the bark and expands in diameter as the tree grows. The cambium layer is surrounded by phloem and xylem cells, and it is these that cause the rings we see when professional arborists remove a tree. 

A tree’s trunk is critical for limb support and root-to-leaf nutrient and moisture transport. The cells on the inner section are known as xylem, and they move nutrients and moisture to the leaves. The xylem cells are responsible for creating the hard wood texture. 

Phloem cells form on the outside of the cambium layer. These are more specialized in that they transport: 

  • Stored food
  • Hormones
  • Vitamins
  • Sugars
  • Amino acids

Both layers grow continuously. The bark is on the outside and protects these delicate layers from pathogens, insects, and the elements. While damage to the trunk can be serious, a tree can still recover. If, however, it loses its bark, it is likely dead or dying. 

Leafy Crown

The tree’s crown is where it grows upward. It is a growing tip that sends out shoots, leaves, and flowers. Removing this section can kill the tree, as this is where most of the buds form, which contain growing cells that form the tree’s canopy. 

The tree protects this vital structure by wrapping it in a leaf called the cataphyll. The tree also grows shoots and leaves around this structure as soon as possible to provide protection against the elements that may damage the delicate structure. 

While some people believe in topping trees to control their shape, most arborists advise against this practice. 

Contact the Tree Professionals Today!

Does that answer the question, “How does a tree grow?” Do you have others, like “How often to water newly planted trees?” Contact the professional arborists at Clark Tree Experts at 706-949-9016 to schedule a free consultation today and boost tree growth rates. Our expert team will coax new life out of your trees. 

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