The life cycle of a tree | Sappi

There are four stages in the life cycle of a tree. The first stage is a seed. The next is the emergence of the stem and perhaps a few leaves. The third is the sapling stage. The final stage of the life cycle of a tree is when it has fully grown and reached the last stage of maturity. 

Stage 1: Seed

The first stage in the life cycle of a tree is a seed. A seed begins to grow when warmth and moisture swell the seed causing its skin to split. A tiny root grows downward, collecting water and minerals from the soil and anchoring the seed. At the same time a shoot pushes up towards the light. Both the root and the shoot grow from the embryo, the smallest part of the seed.

Did you know? For plants to survive they need to spread their seeds. Seeds are dispersed by animals, wind and water. Birds and other animals swallow berries whole but digest only the fleshy parts. The seeds pass out, unharmed, in their droppings.  

Stage 2: Stem

This is the first occasion you will see a stem and perhaps a couple of leaves.  There are numerous things that could harm the sprout from developing; these include too much or too little water, too much sun, fire or being eaten by insects or animals.  

Stage 3: Sapling

The next phase is the sapling stage, this is when the sprout continues to grow and has not yet reached the stage of complete maturity. During this stage, the sapling is not big enough to be considered a full grown mature tree. The sapling stage can be compared to when a child grows into a teenager. Saplings grow quickly but they are unable to reproduce (grow seeds) at this point.

Stage 4: Fully grown tree

The final stage of the life cycle of a tree is when it is has fully grown and reached the last stage of maturity. This is the adult stage of its life and since the tree is fully grown it can now grow seeds, fruit and/or nuts. The mature tree has many branches, the trunk is wide and the leaves are fully grown and bright in colour. Because the tree can now reproduce, the life cycle can begin all over again. 

Did you know? Each year a tree grows a new ring of wood just under the bark, so when a tree is cut down you can find out how old a tree is by counting the rings.

How does photosynthesis help trees to grow?

In forests, trees, flowers and other plants carry out the process of photosynthesis, which enables them to grow. They catch and store light energy in their leaves, which they need in order to live. Trees take up water containing food from the soil through their roots and also absorb water from mist and rain through their leaves. At the same time, they take in carbon dioxide from the air, and use it to convert the light energy into glucose, a form of food that enables them to grow. During this process, they release oxygen.