A tree’s form refers to its shape, which occurs naturally or can be altered through pruning. Observing the form of a tree can help you identify its species. It can also alter the area surrounding the tree and play a large role in the aesthetics of a yard or piece of land.

Different types of trees can have drastically different forms. Some people will prefer tall, majestic forms found in trees like evergreens, while others may prefer the more intricate and abstract look of a gnarled fruit tree.

Why tree form matters

The form of a tree goes beyond characterizing the tree’s look. It can also provide balance amongst other plant life or buildings, add shade to an area and create striking beauty. Aesthetic choices often matter to homeowners who are planting trees, so selecting a tree with the right form will be something to consider in this situation.

Morphology, or the study of forms of things, is excellent to put into practice with trees. Tree morphology examines the visual structure and shape of the tree, analyzing the way the tree operates and lives as well as the benefits it can provide.

Morphology typically studies the natural form of trees, but trees can also be pruned artificially. Tree pruning can actually be considered an art, such as in bonsai tree care.

A few of our favorite forms

There are a wide variety of tree forms in nature, and even more that have been artificially created. Here are some of the most striking and identifiable trees and their famous forms.

  • American elm: The American elm has a vase-shaped stature, with a wide canopy that is perfect for animals to build nests in.
  • Weeping willow: The weeping willow is a giant tree, but looks soft and gentle due to its cascading, wispy branches and leaves. Weeping willows provide excellent shade under their wide canopies that reach the ground.
  • Evergreen: Evergreens are tall and statuesque. Because of their thick sets of branches and needles, they offer great wind and sound protection and can be home to various wildlife.
  • Maple: Maple trees are medium-height and have a large, rounded or oval crown filled with leaves of magnificent colors. This type of tree provides lots of shade under its wide span of branches.
  • Fruit tree: There are many kinds of fruit trees, but many types have twisting branches that wind around each other, growing and dropping fruit. Old, gnarled fruit trees can create a striking contrast to more symmetrical trees or low bushes.
  • Artificially-pruned trees: Although all trees will have their own standard form and shape, you can have a tree pruned to create a form you desire. If you want your tree to have a taller, thinner canopy, you can have the excess trimmed away underneath. You’ll need to keep in mind that pruning can alter the structure of the tree forever and improper pruning may affect the way the tree receives nutrients and water.

Learning to identify forms of different trees is an excellent hobby and can help you stay more in-tune with the natural world around you. Tree form is also important when landscaping or planting trees to create a certain aesthetic, shade area or other specific purposes. To learn more about trees and their forms, contact Soil Advocates at admin@soiladvocates.ca

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