How a tree grows

February 18, 2014

Colorado spruce
How does a tree grow? Here is the story of a spruce tree:

The seed is a little brown bump. Inside, a tiny tree is curled up, waiting.

When springtime brings warmth and water, the tiny tree wakes up. It uses the food inside the seed for fuel as it begins to stretch and breaks out of its brown coat.

A green shoot reaches up, up, up, through the soil, out into the fresh air and sunlight. At the same time, the first roots reach down into the earth.

The tender skin of the little green tree darkens into rough bark and the cells harden into wood strong enough to hold the tree upright. Meanwhile, roots grow to hold it firmly in the earth.

Because it’s a spruce tree, its leaves are thin and pointed, like needles. Every spring it grows more needle-covered branches. Year after year, it gets taller.

When the spruce tree is tall, it grows cones in its branches that hold seeds. In fall, the cones dry out and pop open. The seeds fall out, fluttering down to the earth to wait for a warm, wet spring.

Come to the Children’s Garden of The Morton Arboretum during Arbor Week in April 2014 and learn all about trees. You can look at “tree cookies” with rings that tell trees’ stories.

You can plant a seed of an Engelmann spruce tree. Then the family can hike out to the Conifer Collection to see what that tree will look like if it lives a long time.

The grown-up Engelmann spruce tree will be wide and tall, with many blue-green needles. But at the very tip-top of the tree, far above your head, will be the part that once was a little green seedling, carried toward the sky.


Navistar is the sponsor for Children's Garden Drop-In & Adventure Programs.