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The 9 Parts of a Tree (With Pictures)

Trees are habitats for thousands of species. Birds hot between their branches, lichens grow quietly on the bark of their trunks, and fungi connect worlds of rootlets underground. Have you ever wondered about the parts of the tree? Each of the parts of a tree contributes to its growth. Without any one of these parts, the organism wouldn’t make it.

Continue reading this article to learn about the parts of a tree. We’ll look at the tree from top to bottom, examining each component and how it relates to the tree as a whole.

The 9 Parts of a Tree

1. Crown

Crown part of the trees
Crown part of the trees | image by Dietmar Rabich via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

The top of the tree which contains the most of its leaves and canopy. Most of the photosynthesis of the tree happens here in the crown.

The crown of a deciduous tree is usually shaped like an oval or a partial circle. Evergreen trees’ crowns are more cone-shaped, and they usually extend farther down the trunk.

Depending on what species of tree and how old it is, the crown can be a few feet tall or a few hundred feet tall. Every tree has a crown, whether it is a young Japanese maple or an ancient towering Sequoia.

2. Leaves

Leaves of a tree
Leaves of a tree | image by mmarchin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Leaves are the energy-generating centers for the tree. Each leaf is green because it makes sugar via photosynthesis from sunlight. Leaves have different shapes according to the kind of tree.

Deciduous trees shed their leaves every year; the green chlorophyll leaches out of them, leaving red and yellow chlorophyll. Coniferous trees, on the other hand, maintain smaller leaves for several years at a time. These leaves are often called ‘needles.’

3. Twigs

Freezing twigs
Freezing twigs | image by Famartin via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Twigs are the first step in a tree branching out. Twigs jut out from branches, which jut out from the tree trunk. A twig is usually about the diameter of a pencil, or a little smaller.

They can be bendy and supple, as opposed to tree branches, which are more rigid. They are the first point of contact for leaves on a tree. In spring, twigs of fruiting trees usually have buds on the ends of them and produce flowers, then fruit.

4. Branch

Tamarind tree branches
Tamarind tree branches | image by Kawishka Chathurya via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Branches are an intermediate component of trees. They are connected on one side to the trunk or a larger branch, and on the other to twigs or a smaller branch. They enable to tree to spread out its leaf coverage so that it can receive the highest amount of sunlight possible.

Trees may or may not have branches, depending on the kind. Palm trees have no branches, while oak trees have hundreds, if not thousands.

5. Fruit

Apple tree fruit
Apple tree fruit | image by GoToVan via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

A tree’s fruit is primarily its way of reproducing. People have eaten fruits since before recorded history because to their nutrition and sweet taste. Fruits are delicious and high in nutrients for several reasons.

Here is one such reason:

Trees create fruits because they entice animals to eat them, excrete them, and enable a new plant to grow. Many tropical birds eat fruits and spread the seeds via excretion while flying. Some seeds even require a bath in digestive juices to activate and begin the growing process.

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6. Trunk

Chestnut tree trunk
Chestnut tree trunk | image by Stephen Craven via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.0

The trunk of a tree is its heart. It supports the tree, conveys nutrients within the tree, and measures how old the tree is.

Here are three major parts of the tree’s trunk: 


The heartwood of a tree is the strongest, densest wood of the tree. It is often prized most highly and sold for top dollar. Heartwood was once living, but now all that remains are the shapes of its cells.

It remains in the center of the tree as the tree grows. It provides structure and stability for the growing tree. Heartwood keeps the tree stable in high wind and strong storms.

If you notice a tree is hollow but is still alive, it is possible that the heartwood has rotted out. While a tree can survive without its heartwood, there is a higher probability that it will catch diseases and rot.


Sapwood draws water and nutrients upward in the tree. Its goal is to bring minerals up to the crown of the tree so that there is no area left unnourished. This is the layer from which maple sap is tapped to make maple syrup.

In the later winter, sap flows in this part of the tree. When the tree grows, the sapwood hardens into heartwood.


The tree grows upwards and outwards in the Cambium. Cells here have the ability to differentiate – that is, become – several kinds of cells.

They can become bark cells that guard the tree or carries food from upper to lower layers. Or, they can grow into sapwood cells that shuttle sap upwards into the leaves.

7. Bark

Crocodile bark pattern on the trunk
Crocodile bark pattern on the trunk | image by Swati Sidhu via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Inner Bark 

The inner bark is the downward superhighway on the inside of the tree. All of the nutrients produced by the leaves in photosynthesis travel down the inner bark, where they are stored in special cells made to keep nutrients until they are needed.

Outer Bark 

The outer bark of the tree protects it from the outside world. Much like the heartwood, it is made of dead cells that keep their shape.

Outer bark keeps the good and the bad out. For example, water is a net good for the tree, but if too much enters through the outside bark, it would cause a rotting problem.

8. Roots

Tree roots
Tree roots | image by Mohit S via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

All trees have roots. Botanists estimate a tree’s roots are twice as large as its canopy above ground. That is a lot larger than what most of us think!

Trees need a lot of space to grow properly. They seek out wide reaches of their environment to stabilize their weight and find water, minerals, and connections with other trees.

 There are two ways they grow these roots:


A taproot is one single, deep root that extends very far down into the soil and grows large quickly. Some trees use this root growing method in order to establish themselves quicker than their competitors.

Every sapling first grows a taproot. Most taproots only grow to a certain depth, since nutrients are difficult to find in old, deep soils. At that point, most trees grow roots laterally.

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Lateral and Oblique Roots

Lateral roots are the status quo for most trees. These roots extend outward in every direction, a 360 degree circle around the tree and downward. They mirror the canopy above the ground, just bigger.

Oblique roots do the same thing, but at a diagonal downward. If you cut the taproot off of a sapling, it will grow lateral and oblique roots instead of regrowing a taproot.

The disadvantage of lateral roots is that some trees lack balance and don’t have an anchor. The advantage is that it is easier for the tree to find water if its roots start off close to the surface.

9. Root Hairs

Tree’s root hairs
Tree’s root hairs

Root hairs have some of the most important roles in the entire tree system. They interact with mycorrhizal fungi to improve nutrient flow and increase communication efficiency with other trees.

Scientists have only recently come to realize how important the fungal network of the tree is. Trees aren’t just able to absorb more nutrients or water thanks to fungi. They are in fact able to give each other nutrient deliveries, be informed about environmental threats, and implement protective actions in the event of nearby insect infestations.

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About Anna Lad

Anna is a wildlife biologist who graduated from Texas A&M in 2020. She enjoys studying and learning about wild birds and wildlife of all types.