This article is about the biological meaning of tree. For other meanings of the word see tree (graph theory) and tree data structure. A tree can also be a chart of one's ancestors in genealogy.

Baobab tree in South-Africa
A tree is defined as a perennial plant at least 4.5 m (15 ft) high at maturity, and with branches supported on a single main stem. Trees are important components of the natural landscape and significant elements in landscaping. Compared with most other forms of plants, trees are long-lived. A few species of trees grow to over 100 m (300 ft) tall and some live for several millennia.

The component parts of a tree are the roots, trunk(s), branches, twigs and leaves. Tree stems consist mainly of support and transport tissues (xylem and phloem). In fact, wood consists of xylem cells, and the bark is primarily made of phloem. As a tree grows, it creates growth rings, which can be counted in temperate climates to determine the age of the tree, and used to date cores or even lumber taken from trees in the past, using the science of dendrochronology. The roots of a tree are generally embedded in earth, providing anchorage for the above-ground biomass and absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. Above ground, the trunk gives height to the leaf-bearing branches, aiding in competition with other plant species for sunlight. In many trees the arrangement of the branches optimize exposure of the leaves to sunlight.

A small group of trees growing together is called a grove or coppice, and a landscape covered of many trees is called a forest. Several biotopes are defined largely by the trees that inhabit them, for example, the rainforest and the taiga. Large, but scattered trees with grassland (usually burned over periodically) in between is called a savanna.

Not all trees have the plant organs mentioned above. For examples: most palmss are not branched, the saguaro cactus of North America has no functional leaves, tree ferns do not have bark, etc. Based on their rough shape and size, all of these are nonetheless generally regarded as trees. Indeed, sometimes size is the most important consideration. A plant form that is similar to a tree, but generally having smaller, multiple trunks and/or branches that arise near the ground, is called a shrub. However, no sharp differentiation between shrubs and trees is possible. Given their small size, Bonsai plants would not technically be 'trees', but one should not confuse reference to the form of a species with the the size or shape of individual specimens. A pine seedling does not fit the definition of a tree, but all pines are trees.

Trees often serve as important symbols in mythologies and religions. Examples are Yggdrasil in the Norse Mythology, the Christmas Tree that is derived from Germanicic mythology, the Tree of Knowledge of Judaism and Christianity, and the Bodhi tree in Buddhism. In some religions, such as Hinduism, trees are said to be the homes of tree spirits.

Trees occur in many diverse families of plants, and thus show a wide variety of leaf types and shapes, bark, flowers, fruit, etc. The earliest trees were probably tree ferns, which grew in vast forests. Later the gymnosperms, ginkgos and cycads appeared (most modern cycads no longer appear as trees). Most species of trees today are flowering plants and conifers. The list below gives some examples of well known trees and how they are typically classified.

Table of contents
1 Flowering plants (Magnoliophyta)
2 Conifers
3 Ginkgos
4 Ferns
5 See also

Flowering plants (Magnoliophyta)

  • Aceraceae family
  • Aquifoliaceae family
    • Common Holly, Ilex aquifolium
    • Tarajo Holly, Ilex latifolia
  • Betulaceae family
    • Common Alder, Alnus glutinosa
    • Silver Birch, Betula pendula
  • Fagaceae family
    • Sweet Chestnut, Castanea sativa
    • American Beech, Fagus grandifolia
    • Oriental Beech, Fagus orientalis
    • Common Beech, Fagus sylvatica
    • Black Beech, Nothofagus solandri
    • English Oak, Quercus robur
  • Fouquieriaceae family
    • Boojum, Fouquieria columnaris
  • Juglandaceae family
  • Leguminosae family
    • Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
    • Pau Brasil, Brazilwood, South American Redwood, Caesalpinia echinata
    • Sappanwood, East Indian Redwood, Caesalpinia sappan
  • Meliaceae family (Mahogany family)
    • Neem, Azadirachta indica (A. Juss)
    • Thai Neem, Azadirachta siamensis
    • Marango, Azadirachta excelsa (Jack)
    • Persian Lilac, Melia azedarach
    • Melia toosendan
    • Gurke, Melia volkensii
    • Mahogany, Swietenia mahagoni
  • Myristicaceae family
  • Myrtaceae family
  • Oleaceae family
  • Palmae family, also called Palmaceae or Arecaceae, the palm family
    • Areca Nut, sometimes miscalled "Betel Nut", Areca catechu
    • Coconut Cocos nucifera
    • Canary Island Date Palm, Phoenix canariensis
    • date Palm, Phoenix dactylifera
    • Chusan Palm, Trachycarpus fortunei
  • Rhizophoraceae, the mangrove family
    • Red Mangrove, Rhizophora mangle
  • Rosaceae family
  • Rubiaceae family
    • coffee, Coffea arabica
    • coffee, Coffea robusta
  • Rutaceae family
    • Lime, Citrus aurantiifolia
    • Sour Orange, Citrus aurantium, Citrus bigaradia, Citrus vulgaris
    • Sweet Orange, Citrus sinensis
    • Grapefruit, Citrus paradisi
    • Mandarin, also called Tangerine, Citrus reticulata, Citrus nobilis
    • Lemon, Citrus limon, Citrus limonum
    • Satsuma, Citrus unshiu, Citrus reticulata, Citrus nobilis
  • Salicaceae family
    • Aspen, Populus tremula
  • Sapotaceae family
    • Tambalacoque, or dodo tree, Sideroxylon grandiflorum, previously Calvaria major
  • Sterculiaceae family
  • Tiliaceae family. The Lime trees in this family are also known as Linden trees: see Tilia.
    • Basswood (also known as American Lime or American Linden), Tilia americana
    • Common Lime, Tilia europaea
    • Mongolian Lime, Tilia mongolica
    • Silver Lime, Tilia tomentosa, Tilia argentea

Banana trees are not actually trees.



  • Ginkgoaceae family
    • Ginkgo, Ginkgo biloba


  • Cyatheaceae and Dicksoniaceae families
    • Tree ferns, Cyathea, Alsophila, Dicksonia

See also

Tree is the digit 3 in the NATO phonetic alphabet. It is pronounced as such, to prevent possible accidental confusion with other digits.