Do Trees Grow From the Bottom or the Top?

Though it may seem like a strange fact, trees actually grow from the top, not the bottom, once the trunk has reached its full height. This is because all the new growths on a tree occur at the tips of a tree’s branches, which then elongate into new branches, widening the tree from the top outwards. Once a tree has grown, only a small percentage of it is actually alive and still capable of growing, since wood is not a living material. Because of this, the only living cells on a tree are in its twigs. This article will answer the question, ‘Do Trees Grow From the Bottom or the Top?’
Do Trees Grow From the Bottom or the Top?


The elongation of the branches via the growth of the twigs allows the tree to continue growing, even after its trunk is fully grown. Cells located under the bark can contribute some growth in girth, but the trunk will not grow taller. Trees are very unique in the way that they grow, and the lack of growth in height that they have means that they must be maintained and protected against potential damage. After the roots have played their part, it is the branches and twigs that need to be cared for.

Young seedlings

When a new tree is still in the process of growing, it will grow upwards, then extend outwards as the branches extend. Continual growth once a tree is fully grown can only occur from the top because wood is not living. That’s why a tree’s trunk is quite unlikely to start growing in height again after being chopped down. Tree stumps have the potential to resprout and grow again, but it is unlikely to grow properly as it did before once the roots have been cut and start to decompose.

Cut off branches

Do Trees Grow From the Bottom or the Top?

Tree branches also do not grow back if they are cut off, though a new branch may. If a tree becomes damaged in some way, it sprouts growths called “suckers”. These suckers are the tree’s attempts at growing extra branches, though suckers can also grow at the base of a tree if the roots have suffered damage. A tree can grow again from the base after being damaged or cut down, so long as it still has healthy roots. If not, all the growth will happen at the top.

Related article: An ironclad way to stop tree branches growing back. 

Do Trees Grow From the Bottom or the Top?: Cold season

Trees appear smaller and slimmer in the colder seasons after all the leaves have started to fall, but new leaves grow back after winter and give return trees to their wider appearances. The further that the branches elongate due to the living cells in their twigs, the more chances there are for leaves to grow. The more leaves that there are on a tree, the bigger and broader it will appear. Every new shoot on a tree is a growth, and though they may be small, every growth is significant for the health and appearance of a tree.


Do Trees Grow From the Bottom or the Top?

The layer of living cells under a tree’s bark is important for thickening the trunk and making the tree even sturdier. Trees can take decades until they become fully grown and mature, which is when the growth of the branches is most noticeable. Though you won’t be able to see them actively extending, the size of a tree is easier to track based on its outwards growth from the top.

Do Trees Grow From the Bottom or the Top?: Conclusion

Growth from the bottom when the tree is new is very straightforward: the trunk grows upwards from the roots. Recognising growth from the top is interesting and can tell you a lot about the health of a fully-grown tree.