Trees

The Life of the Forest

The Living Forest

Rings
See what tree rings tell us
about the life of a tree.

A Seed Takes Root


Pictorial timeline shows
how a pinecone sheds
a seed and becomes a tree.

Anatomy of a Tree


See a cross-section
of the inside of a tree trunk.

The forest is a complex community where trees and other plants and animals live in delicate balance. As stewards of the earth’s trees, it’s helpful for us to know about the growth processes of trees, their role in the forest world, and how we can improve their quality.

Trees are a renewable natural resource that can continue to provide beauty and useful products for generations to come. So how does a tree build a trunk that can live for centuries and hold the weight of many tons?

All of a tree trunk’s growing is done in a thin layer of living cells the cambium that surrounds the wood. This layer creates new wood on one side of itself, and new bark on the other. This way, in effect, it moves outward, pushing the bark before it, leaving wood behind. Over the years the trunk of the tree becomes bigger and thicker as this process repeats itself each growing season.

You’ll see how a tree ring can tell you if the tree has lived through fires, lack of rain or too much rain, and much more.

The marvelous chemistry of life tells this layer just how many wood cells will be needed to support the leafy crown, and how much bark to build in order to protect the wood beneath it. This process, infinitely repeated, has given the world its forests. See our picture of the inside of a tree trunk to discover the functions of each layer of a tree’s trunk.

When you visit “The Living Forest” page, you’ll see how the effects of the environment actually make a difference in the way the rings of a tree appear. You’ll see how a tree ring can tell you if the tree has lived through fires, lack of rain or too much rain, and much more.

Graphics courtesy of International Paper