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The Life Cycle of a Tree

Educator Resources

From seed to decay, the tree life cycle is truly miraculous.

Download a PDF version of the infographic.

Life Cycle of a Tree Infographic

Like all living organisms, trees have a life cycle. The tree life cycle comprises stages of tree growth and development that occur under optimal environmental conditions.


Every tree starts as a seed. The seed contains all the nutrients it needs to begin growing. Seeds from trees are dispersed into the environment by wind, humans and animals. Once a seed has settled into its suitable environment, it can begin the growth process.


Under optimal conditions, a tree seed will begin germinating in the soil. At this stage, it begins to grow roots that act as anchors. It will also send up a shoot that emerges from the soil.


The stem and beginning of leaf growth.


Also known as the young or juvenile stage. A sapling is a tree that has grown to around 1-4 inches in diameter.


The tree will grow and mature to the specifications and characteristics of its specie. When it has reached maturity it is considered to be full-grown. 


A mature tree will flower/fruit/nut during its specific season.


A mature tree can reproduce and produces seeds to be dispersed into the environment. A mature tree that is either flowering or producing fruits or nuts is reproducing.

Decaying or Snag

A tree that has reached the end of its life cycle.


Instead of allowing the tree to decay, it can be harvested at the correct time as timber to become a product made from a tree. 



  • Check out our fun and engaging forestry timeline student activity!
  • Check out our fun and engaging forestry vocabulary student activity!


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