The Arbopedia is full of information about the trees and forests of the world. Just click below to start exploring the ABCs of trees.
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Not only is the tiny acorn a symbol of patience, it is also symbolic of “from small ideas come great things.” That’s because, from this small “nut” of a seed container grow huge oak trees that live hundreds of years! Acorns are also an important source of food for birds, squirrels, mice, deer and bears.
Did you know? Most of the bats used in Major League Baseball are made out of the wood from ash trees. Found all over the world, ash trees are easy to spot because the seeds, called keys, spin like helicopter blades when they fall.
See Upside Down Tree.
Bark is like the skin of a tree: it’s the woody coating that covers and protects the roots, trunk and branches. Bark actually has lots of uses. You can make cork, canoes, rope, cinnamon and aspirin from different kinds of bark. In Finland, they even make Pine Bread from bark!
The beech tree is a deciduous tree with smooth grey-brown bark. In fact the bark is so smooth that people often deface these trees to carve their initials in them. Beech wood is often used in making furniture and drums.
The birch tree is one of the most versatile trees in use today. You can make paper, soap, shampoo and even juice from a birch tree. North American Indians made fast canoes from the bark. In Russia, they love birch trees so much that they made it their national tree.
Tree branches are like the arms of a tree, “branching” out from the trunk, drawing water up from the roots. Fruit, nuts, leaves and flowers all grow on branches. Branches can range in size from very tiny to massive—large enough to crush a house if they get blown off during a storm.
The cedar is one of the most famous trees in history. Cedar trees were used for King Solomon’s temple, built in Jerusalem about 3,000 years ago. It is also the national tree of Lebanon—you can see it on their flag! The Western Red Cedar was used for totem poles and ceremonial masks by North American Indians.
The world’s longest totem pole was named the “Spirit of Lekwammen.” which means “Land of the Winds.” The totem pole was carved in 1994 from a cedar tree over 500 years old. It stood about 180 feet high.
Although the Christmas tree is associated with Christmas, a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, it is believed to originally come from the Pagan holiday tradition in Germany, of hanging mistletoe and burning a Yule log.
Native to South America and Indonesia, the tree’s bark is said to have medicinal qualities. It got its name in 1742 when it was named by Carl Linnaeus for Countess of Chinchon of Peru. Carl Linnaeus invented the Linnean system of classifying plants, by separating them into 24 classes.
The cotton tree is the symbolic and historic official tree of Freetown, Sierra Leone. The tree was discovered, growing in the middle of town, by a group of former African slaves in 1792 who gave Freetown its name. To this day, the tree remains healthy, surrounded by the city life of Freetown.
The cryptomeria is the national tree of Japan, where it is known as the sugi. A member of the cypress family, it can grow up to 230 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter! Some cryptomerias can reach an age of 2000 years, making it one of the oldest trees ever!
You may think you don't like deciduous trees because they are trees whose leaves you have to rake up! But those leaves also provide shade in the summer and hiding places for birds too. Leaves from deciduous trees fall off once a year, unlike evergreen trees, whose leaves stay on the tree all year long.
Dendrochronology is the method of figuring out how old a tree is by counting its rings. Each year trees put on a layer of new wood under the bark. The thickness of that layer—the tree-ring—depends on various factors, particularly climate.
Originally from Central Asia, the elm has since flourished across most of the Northern hemisphere. A deciduous tree, the elm can grow up to 75 to 100 feet or 23 to 30 metres. With an interlocking grain, elm wood is really strong, used for making wheels, chairs and yikes…coffins!
When you’re one of the fastest growing trees in the world, you get a reputation as a water guzzler. An evergreen, the eucalyptus has over 700 species – that’s a big family! A native to Australia, the eucalyptus is home to the koala bear.
Unlike the deciduous tree, the evergreen tree never loses its leaves, hence it is “ever green” all year long. This is also known as leaf persistence, which can vary from a few months of new growth, while old leaves shed, to years of new growth. Examples of evergreen trees include the spruce and the pine tree.
The fever tree is a semi-deciduous tree found in Kenya and South Africa. It got its name because people living in areas near the tree tended to come down with fevers. It was later discovered that the fever tree grows in areas where puddles of rain collect, attracting mosquitoes that bring malaria and other forms of fever.
If the fir tree were an athlete, it would be a basketball player. That’s because it is simply one of the tallest trees in the world. It can grow up to 260 feet and 12 feet in diameter! An evergreen coniferous, fir trees are found in Northern and Central America, Europe, Asia and in the mountainous ranges of North Africa.
Foliage is the leaves of any plant, tree or shrub. To say foliage comes in many shapes and sizes is putting it mildly. Even needles on evergreen trees are considered foliage. Some leaves are tiny, like those of an Arctic snow willow, while others, like the leaves of a banana tree, are so big, people can use them as an umbrella when it rains!
Fried Egg Tree
Money may not grow on trees but fried eggs do. At least that’s what the white and yellow flowers of the fried egg tree look like when they open. Growing to a height of 5 meters, the fried egg tree is found in India.
Ginko Biloba Tree
To be unique can sometimes mean being lonely. That’s what it must be like for the ginko biloba—it has no relatives! Used in foods at Chinese weddings and New Year, some people believe the ginko nut can help prevent memory loss. Some ginko plants are 1,500 years old!
The Golden Spoon is one of the common names for a flowering tree found in Haiti and other tropical countries. The tree produces a sweet yellow fruit called a nance. This fruit can be eaten right off the tree, or when cooked in sugar and water, it makes a candy called “dulce de nance.” Delicious!
Great job! You found the first clue! Now head to the Tree Planting page, and look for information on Haiti.
The grass tree gets its name because of its long grass-like leaves. A native of Australia, it does well without much water, so in ancient times, it was often set on fire and used as a lantern.
High winds? Drought? Heat? To all these things, the hackberry tree says “Bah! That doesn’t bother me!” With a cork-like trunk, the hackberry is a deciduous tree that is strong, sturdy and able to grow where other trees can't. Birds especially like their dark red berries.
Think of the ironwood as one big apartment building. In the Sonoran Desert, in the Southwest United States, nothing grows much bigger than a bush. So at 45 feet, the ironwood becomes a safe refuge and food source for dozens of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. And bees, ants and 25 other types of insects too!
Another name for the juniper tree might be “world traveler.” With 67 species, junipers are found from the Arctic in the north to tropical Africa in the south. The juniper berry has many uses, from a spice in foods, to an early treatment for diabetes by North American Indians! The juniper is a coniferous tree from the cypress family.
It’s highly likely you have hugged a kapok tree at some point in your life. Or at least part of one. That’s because the fiber from a kapok tree is often used as a stuffing in Teddy Bears, mattresses and pillows. Also known as the java cotton, the kapok is a tropical tree found in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and Northern America. The tree can grow up to 70 metres or 230 feet tall and is a sacred symbol in Mayan mythology.
Kinomé is a leaf that comes from the ash tree. Japanese for bud, these young leaves have a fresh, subtle mint flavor and have a soft texture. Kinomé is used as a garnish for many Japanese dishes.
Although much beloved for building material, the loblolly pine was no friend to President Eisenhower of the United States. That’s because the president hit one with his golf ball so many times on the 17th hole of Augusta National Golf Course, he wanted it cut down. Despite being the most powerful man in the country, the President’s wishes were not granted. The Loblolly is a fast growing pine found mainly in North Carolina.
If you’re on board a sailboat, or sitting in a chair, or strumming a guitar or banging a drum, there’s a good chance you are surrounded by mahogany wood. Best known for its reddish brown wood, mahogany wood is also known for its warm sound in the production of guitars, both electric and acoustic.
You can’t be any more Canadian than when you are pouring syrup on your pancakes. That’s because the maple leaf is Canada’s national symbol. The sap in a maple tree is said to be “running” in the spring. Trees are tapped for their sap, which is boiled down into syrup. Canada’s most famous hockey team is called the Toronto Maple Leafs!
If the musclewood tree were a movie star, it would likely be an Action Hero. That’s because it’s known to be a tough tree. Tough because it can grow in sun or shade, and in wet or dry soil. It is also called the American hornebeam—which mean “tough tree” in old English, because of its very hard wood. Its big round branches also look like muscles.
That’s “Dr. Neem Tree” to you. Because every part of this tree is used in traditional Indian medicine, the neem tree is about as close as you can come to a pharmacy in nature. Native to India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the neem is also known as the Divine Tree and the Heal All.
The fruit of an oak is a nut called an acorn, from which we get the famous quote “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”
One of the most famous oak trees is Robin Hood’s Major Oak, found in the Sherwood Forest in England. It is said to be the hide-out of Robin Hood!
With multiple trunks going in all directions, and flowers that bloom at the top of the tree like tentacles, it’s no wonder this tree reminds people of a deep sea monster! Also known as the umbrella tree, this native of Australia is an evergreen that can grow up to 50 feet tall.
Old Man’s Beard
With white flowers that grow in strips of 15 to 25 centimeters, it is no wonder this tree makes people think of an old man’s beard, hence its hairy namesake. A deciduous tree that can grow up to 30 feet tall, old man’s beard is native to the eastern United States from New Jersey to Florida and west from Oklahoma and to Texas.
Perennials are trees, plants or flowers that live from year to year and unlike annuals, don’t have to be replanted every year. Examples of perennials include begonias, geraniums, daisies, tulips, roses and impatiens.
No, it’s not the green stuff coming out of your nose—that’s phlegm! Phloem are tiny, tube-like structures inside of plants and trees that carry nutrients like water, sugar and carbon dioxide downwards throughout the tree or plant during the process of photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis is the way in which trees and other plants make their own food. Green plants contain chlorophyll which, with the help of water, carbon dioxide and light energy from the sun, allows plants to produce a sugary liquid that is its food source. The chlorophyll is found inside the leaves in the chloroplasts cells. Under a microscope they look like tiny green jellybeans.
The most popular softwood used in building houses, the pine tree is a coniferous tree known for its needle-shaped leaves, strong spicy smell and pine cones. With approximately 115 species, the pine tree is found mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, although it is also found in New Zealand. The resin from pines trees is used for turpentine, resin and tar.
Purple Heart Tree
When you sink the “eight ball” and win your game of pool, likely you have the Purple Heart Tree to thank. That’s because the wood from this tree is often used in the making of pool cues. Found in tropical climates, it is known for its strength and durability. It gets its name because it quickly turns from light brown to purple after being cut.
Many of the medicines we use today were originally derived from trees and plants. Such is the case for quinine, which is the cure for malaria, a disease that some mosquitoes carry. Found in the cinchona tree, quinine was first discovered by the Quechua Indians. With so many possible cures to be found in other trees and plants, this is why saving the rainforests of the world is so important.
Like the tentacles of an octopus, the root system under a tree, plant or flower spreads out under the surface of the earth. It grows wherever there is enough oxygen and water to feed the tree, plant or flower. Every year the roots grow thicker and stronger.
Sap is the liquid found in trees and other plants, transported by xylem cells. Many insects feed on the sap found in plants.
With a fried egg tree and a sausage tree, breakfast is pretty much covered. Found in Africa and India, this tropical tree gets its name from its sausage-like fruit. Oddly enough, the tree can’t make up its mind what is it. It is evergreen where rain falls, but deciduous where there is a long, dry season. The fruit pulp is eaten by baboons, bush pigs, savannah elephants, giraffes, hippopotami, porcupines and monkeys.
A shrub or bush is a small woody plant similar to a tree, except it has multiple stems and is much lower in height. There are hundreds of different kinds of shrubs including lilac shrubs and rose bushes. They can be either deciduous or evergreen.
Did you know you have a spruce tree in your house right now? Well, at least part of one. That’s because the long strong fibers of the spruce makes it ideal for making paper. It is also a common choice for Christmas trees, although don’t ask for a tall one. They can grow up to 90 meters (295 feet)!
Okay, we’ve got fried eggs and sausages growing on trees. So after we’ve finished eating breakfast, we’re going to need to brush our teeth. So we might as well have a tree that grows toothbrushes! The toothbrush tree is a small tree with a crooked trunk and sand-coloured bark found mainly in India. It has long fibrous branches that were used as toothbrushes in ancient days.
None of us would be here if it wasn’t for trees. They clean the water we drink and the air we breathe. Some trees can live to be 10,000 years old. Some are taller than a skyscraper. Some are bigger than a football field. And they produce thousands of different kinds of fruits and nuts. It’s pretty hard to define a tree but one of the simplest and most accurate definitions is: a tree is a plant with a stick up the middle (the stick is the trunk). Trees are found on all seven continents except Antarctica, which is just too cold for trees or any flowering plants.
No, it’s not the back of a car, or a big box to put things in that we’re talking about here. For a tree, the trunk is the part that grows up from the ground. It supports the branches and is fed by the roots. The trunk is covered by bark which helps to protect the tree.
It’s not nice to call anyone names—even if it is a fruit with rough, wrinkly yellow skin. While it might look “ugly” on the outside, it is anything but on the inside, tasting sweet like an orange. Native to Jamaica, the Ugli is known as a tangelo.
Upside Down Tree
Also called the Baobab tree, it could also be called a water tower. That’s because it can store up to 120 thousand litres or 26,400 gallons of water! Found in Madagascar, Africa and Australia, its huge trunk can measure up to 50 meters or 165 feet in diameter. And why “upside down?” According to African folklore, all of the animals were given a tree to plant and the hyena planted the Baobab tree upside down!
A vine is a kind of woody climbing plant. Vines can grow just about anywhere: around and up trees, rocks, houses or buildings. Some common vines are sweat pea and grapevines. But poison ivy is also a vine and you should definitely stay away from poison ivy!
Where there is water, you will find a willow tree growing. You’ll also find a treatment for the common headache – aspirin! The weeping willow tree’s leaves and bark are mentioned in ancient texts going back as far as Ancient Egypt, as a cure for aches and fever. Willows are also known for their strength and flexibility because they can withstand the high winds of storms and tornadoes.
No, it’s not a crazy tree. The wingnut tree is a deciduous tree found in China that can grow as tall as it is wide, with a huge trunk that can be up to 8 feet in diameter. The tree gets its name from the 6 to 12 inches of green strings of winged seeds that hang below the branches.
Winterberry Holly Tree
The winterberry holly tree is also known as “Christmas Cheer”! It is a holly tree native to Eastern North America in the United States, from Minnesota to Alabama; and Southeastern Canada from Newfoundland to Ontario. After its glossy green leaves fall away in September all that’s left are its bright red berries.
Wonderboom is the African translation for wonder tree, because the wonderboom is said to be a miracle. It really refers to a reserve, called the Wonderboom Natural Reserve in South Africa. There you can find a wild willowleaf fig tree that is more than a thousand years old! It is so old that its branches have grown down to the ground and rooted, to form an even bigger tree!
Xylem is a woody tissue found inside of plants and trees. Xylem carries water and dissolved minerals from the roots upwards through a plant.
The Ya-Te-Veo tree—African for “I see you”—is also known as the man-eating tree. This fictional tree is so big, that as legend has it, it can devour a whole person!
Imagine only having to do something once every three years. That’s the life of a yellowwood tree, which only blooms its fragrant white flowers once every three years. Found in the southeastern United States and eastern Asia, the yellowwood has leaves that turn a mix of orange, gold and yellow in the fall.
The Yggdrasil tree, meaning “The Terrible One’s Horse” is a tree mentioned often in Norse mythology. It is a giant Ash tree with three root systems: one on earth, a second under the earth and a third that stretches to heaven. Three wells lie at its base: the Well of Wisdom, guarded by Mimir; the Well of Fate, guarded by the Norns and the Roaring Kettle, the source of many rivers.
The Zelkova tree, a deciduous relative of the elm tree, is found in Southern Europe, China, Japan and Italy. It is known as an ornamental plant, often favored in the garden or as a house plant because of its pink flowers and foliage. It has very hard wood which makes it ideal for furniture.
Sometimes when you are the first to discover something, you get to name it after yourself. Such is the case of the zinnia flower, named after German botanist Johann Zinn. A perennial, the zinnia is known to attract butterflies and is found mostly in the south western United States and Mexico.