Let’s Identify the Parts of a Tree

Kiran Singh

While a tree itself is a big, magnificent living thing, it truly is a sum of parts that creates the beautiful plant. From the stump of the tree to its leaves, each part serves a particular purpose to the environment as it takes in sunlight and, combined with chlorophyll, goes through photosynthesis, which releases an essential compound for us, humans, you’ll know as oxygen. Without trees, we as humans wouldn’t be able to live. That’s why each and every one of us should appreciate all of the components a tree has to offer.


Here’s a look at how all of the elements of a tree work together.


The Crown

The crown of a tree consists of the leaves and branches at the top of the tree, serving as a protector of sorts. Call it the knight in shining armour if you will.

It filters dust and other particles from the air and prevents them from making it to the surface and keeps the air cleaner as a result. It also provides valuable shade that helps reduce the temperature of the soil below and allows us to escape from the sweltering summer sun. Especially if you’re out and about exercising, that can be a valuable resource so you can catch your breath before getting going once again.

The leaves of a tree contain chlorophyll, which makes them green. Chlorophyll is the tree’s food resource. Leaves, through photosynthesis, convert carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen, which, of course, we all need to live.

How do the sugars develop? Sunlight combines with chlorophyll to transform it into sugars. That’s why, the more trees that we protect, the better it is for the environment. The sugar is the tree’s food and is essential to keeping the tree alive. The sugar is stored in the branches, the trunk or the roots, while oxygen is released into the atmosphere. Then other living things, such as humans, breathe it in.


The Roots

The roots of a tree absorb water and nutrients from the soil, store sugars and, most logically, provide an anchor to keep the tree in the ground. When trees topple over during storms, it’s because the trees are uprooted, which ultimately causes them to lose their balance and fall. Each root, which varies in size, has thousands of root hairs that absorb water. The majority of the root system is in the upper layer near the surface because that’s where oxygen is most prevalent. Roots tend to range in sizes, as they grow as needed to adapt to local water levels. That obviously varies based on where you are and how much it rains there.


The Trunk

The trunk, which is also known as the tree’s stem, gives a tree its shape and strength, as well as supporting the crown. The function of a tree trunk is to contain what seems more of a plumbing system for the tree.

There are four layers of tissue that contain a network of tubes rubbing between the roots and the leaves. Items like minerals and water travel up through these passageways, making the trunk a key component to keeping the tree alive and running smoothly.

In the reverse direction, sugars travel down from the leaves to the branches, trunk, and roots. The trunk is literally the central system that supports everything that happens in the tree. The function of a tree trunk is almost comparable to a heart in a human being. Without its abilities, a man or woman would not be able to live. The same goes with the trunk with the tree. It’s an absolutely vital organ to the tree’s system.



The trunk, branches, and twigs are covered with bark, which is a key element in the makeup of a tree. The outer bark acts as the protector, by securing the tree against insects, disease, storms, and extreme temperatures. With certain types of trees, the outer bark can actually prevent fires. Obviously, if the outer bark is deteriorated, the tree is much more susceptible to infection and disease.

The inner bark, also known as the phloem, which is found between the cambium and the outer bark, is the tree’s food supply line. It carries sap (sugar and other nutrients) throughout the tree. Just like you and me, a tree needs its food source to survive, so the phloem is vital.


The Cambium

This growing layer is only one to two cells thick and makes new cells during the growing season that eventually become part of the phloem. The main function of the cambium is to make the trunk, branches, and roots grow in diameter.


The Heartwood

The heartwood is the inner core of dead wood which ultimately supports the tree. As tree ages, older xylem cells in the centre of the tree wither away and die, which ultimately lead to the creation of the heartwood.


The Xylem

Another word for the xylem is the sapwood, and ultimately, its main function is to carry water and minerals up the trunk. Xylem is also used to replace water lost during transpiration and photosynthesis.


Annual Tree Rings

Have you ever wondered how people can tell how old a tree is? The answer lies within the annual tree rings. Every year, a tree grows a little more and new tree rings develop within the trunk. Experts can then count these rings to decipher the tree’s age.

At the end of the day, a tree is really a sum of its parts, with every element playing an essential role in the process. It is truly a support system, where all elements work together to keep the tree alive. We need to make sure we take care of our trees because if one day they’re all gone, we will be too. That means doing the little things to support the environment, whether that’s eliminating bad habits or promoting good ones. One tree at a time, we can make sure they never are in danger. We just have to be willing to put in the time before it’s too late.

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