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  • Writer's pictureRussell Fey

Life Stages Of A Tree

Growing Tree

As you look out over your beautiful landscape, do you ever wonder how your trees came to rest on your property? If you didn't plant them yourself, how can you be sure that they have been properly cared for and maintained, and how can you ensure their health and proper growth in the future?

Like everything else on our marvelous Earth, trees have their own life cycle. Knowing some basics about a tree's life cycle can significantly impact how you choose to care for it. Different species have different needs, but they all start with a single germinated seed. This is where the real magic begins.

Starting out

A tree's life cycle begins with a single germinated seed that takes root in the soil. A seed---this small, miraculous package of life---has been used for millions of years to spread and grow species. Some of these seeds have evolved to ensure survival, and others are dropped by the dozens in hopes that just one will make its way to a safe and secure area for proper growth.

As a seed germinates, roots shoot out of the protective coating called a shell. These roots help to anchor the seed in the soil and provide an opportunity to soak up moisture. Soon a leaf emerges through the soil, and a seedling has been born.

Vulnerable yet voracious

As a seedling, a tree is at its most vulnerable. It relies on its external environment for nutrition rather than using the energy stored in the seed, yet it hasn't developed many of the protective mechanisms that will allow it to grow correctly. Seedlings have a high mortality rate and can be particularly vulnerable to pests and extreme temperatures. Most trees you can purchase for planting have already been nurtured past the seedling stage, so you will not have to be as vigilant about protecting them after transferring to your property.

Maturing trees

Provided that a tree makes it past the seedling stage, it is known as a sapling. A sapling has a smooth, thin trunk with a thin covering of bark, and it will continue to grow upward until it produces either blossoms, fruit, or other seeds.

When one of these products appears, a sapling has officially become a mature tree. For some types of trees, this process can take a decade, while for others, it can take forty years or more for a tree to be known as "mature." Growth is not over at this stage, however. A mature tree will continue producing fruit, blossoms, or seeds for years before a tree's fertility starts to decline and enter what is known as the "snag" phase.

The snag phase

Snags are known as trees that are dying or already dead. All living things have an eventual expiration process, and while some trees can live hundreds of years, life will come to an end at some point. While you might not relish the thought of a dead tree on your property, the recycling of organic matter back into the soil is an essential part of sustaining plant life on Earth. Monitoring your trees to see what phase of life they are currently going through will help determine what kind of care they need for optimal growth and expression.

Care matters

Your trees will need care and maintenance through all life stages, and care may differ from tree to tree depending on the species. Your best course of action is employing a trained arborist's professional services to assess, care for, and maintain your trees regularly. The health of trees on your property significantly impacts its value, so investing in care will save you plenty of money and time in the long run. At Fey and Sons, LLC, we provide all aspects of tree care--from planting and fortifying to pruning and removal--we have all of your landscaping needs covered. Make a wise investment today; contact us to see how we can improve your trees' health and add to the value and natural beauty of your property. Visit to set up an appointment today.

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