Life Cycle of a Tree: Things You Mightn’t Know!

Life Cycle of a Tree

If you are a gardener or tree enthusiast, you should be aware of the life cycle of a tree. Only then you can understand which phase requires what type of tree maintenance. The phases are the same across all species. 

The initial life cycle consists of seed, seedlings, and sapling development. Then, the plant gradually grows into a mature tree. But how will you identify each stage? For that, I will describe how the plant looks and behaves during these phases.

Life Cycle of a Tree

Before a tree reaches its mature stage, it goes through its primary stages of life. The maintenance and nutrients the tree gets in these stages determine whether it will grow into a healthy tree or not. Here is the primary life cycle of a tree:

1. Seeds

Trees start their life from seed. Different trees have different types of seeds that vary in size, shape, color, texture, and needed nutrients. They also require varying soil structures. 

Life Cycle of a Tree

Once the seeds fall into the ground or wind and other animals carry the seeds, they settle into an environment.  Then, they begin to grow inside the seed shell. 

2. Seedling

From the seed, a root grows through the soil so that the root can access nutrients. Gradually, the root absorbs water, and a stem appears from the seed.

Life Cycle of a Tree

As the stem grows, some tender leaves push their way up through the soil. And this is the seedling stage of the tree. This is the most vulnerable life phase of a plant. Because it is prone to fungus attacks. And extreme weather can kill the seedling if it cannot withstand harsh conditions. 

3. Sapling 

Seedlings grow in height and become saplings. Usually, when the seedling reaches a one-meter height, they are considered to be saplings. 

At this stage, the plant has not fully developed. The trunk is tender, and it is a snap to dig out with a little force. The plant cannot grow fruits or flowers during the sapling phase. But it stores nutrients to promote blossom and fruit production. 

What Are the Mature Life Stages of A Tree?

After the sapling starts to grow, a plant slowly reaches its maturity phase. And here are the detailed stages:

1. Adult Trees

Saplings grow into mature trees as their trunk and branches become sturdy. The bark no longer feels spongy. The branches and twigs start to grow in every direction. 

Life Cycle of a Tree

You will notice fully developed foliage on the tree. Then, the plant starts to produce flowers and fruits. 

This stage does not have the same lifespan across all species of trees. For example, a mango tree can produce fruits for 40 years. And an oak tree can bear acorns for about 300 years. 

2. Snag 

Snag is the last stage of a tree’s life cycle. An adult plant starts to decay when it reaches nearly its lifespan. Having said that, some trees start to rot earlier than expected due to extreme heat, cold, or fungal diseases. 

When a tree stops producing fruits, it becomes a snag. At this phase, most of their foliage dries, and they fall on the ground. These dried leaves are used as kindling in many regions. 

Life Cycle of a Tree

Also, dried trees become the habitat for many birds and insects. So, a snag is not a useless phase at all. The best part about them is that many manufacturing companies cut the snags and store dried wood. These materials aid in their production. Get to see the tutorial if you want to earn more knowledge about it:

How Is the Life Cycle of A Felled/Cut Tree?

Cut trees usually have a different life cycle than the living ones. If you cut a plant way before its lifespan, it will either regrow sprouts from sprout or it will die. The consequence depends on the species of the tree and the amount of care you provide to the tree. 

For instance, Willow and Chestnut trees can produce sprouts or suckers from their cut stump. They do not require active maintenance for that. If the soil has enough nutrients and the stump receives enough sunlight, it can start its life cycle from the seedling stage. 

However, most trees are not that strong to do so. Once you cut them down, their stumps start to rot. And they usually become snag or decaying plants. 


Like any other living organism, the initial life cycle of a tree is crucial for the proper growth and development of a plant. And the cycle can be affected due to several factors. The most common cause is diseases and lack of nutrients. 

So, if you want your trees, especially indoor plants, to go through their whole life cycle, there is no alternative to regular maintenance! 

Md Biajid

Meet Mia Biajid, a passionate nature lover. Particularly, he has a deep-rooted connection to the plant. Mia loves to spend time exploring forests and uncovering the secrets held within trees. He always inspires others to appreciate and protect our precious part of the ecosystem.

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