Do you have the smarts when it comes to tree parts?
Match each tree part with its function. Answers are on page 27.


A. This is the tree’s security system. It helps to protect the tree’s interior from insects, fire and pocketknives. Because it is waterproof, it can protect the tree from losing moisture during extreme temperatures.

B. This part of the tree produces the seed(s). It can be large and showy, like a magnolia, but most of the time it is tiny and easy to overlook. In some trees, it appears in the spring, in others, autumn. It can contain male and female reproductive parts, or only male or female parts.

C. The cells of this part deliver food to the rest of the tree. This is the part of the tree that contains sap.

D. This part is a system of tubes that delivers water and nutrients to the rest of the tree, sometimes at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. A tree grows a new set of these tubes each year. The old tubes, which are no longer alive, create the rings that are used to count the age of the tree.

E. These are the tree’s food factory. They contain chlorophyll, a living chemical that absorbs sunlight and helps plants to create food. This process is called photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is green and is so abundant in this part that it masks the part’s true color. In the autumn, when decreasing sunlight shuts down the food-making process, the chlorophyll is lost and this part’s true color is revealed.

F. These are potential new trees. They are usually surrounded by a shell that contains an embryo and enough nourishment for the embryo until it is rooted in the ground. This part can be microscopic to several inches in diameter. Wildlife like to eat this tree part and it is estimated that less than 1 percent of the many hundreds or thousands produced survive to grow into new trees.

G. This is the living part of the tree located just under the bark. It contains the phloem and xylem systems.

H. This is the interior part of an older tree that is no longer alive. It consists of the tubes that once carried food or water to other parts of the tree that have become clogged with age. This part supports the tree’s structure.

I. Some trees store food in this part, which come in two types. Smaller, hairy versions of this part absorb water and nutrients. When laid end to end, these parts may be thousands of miles long. These parts help to anchor the tree a little bit, but it is the longer, deeper version of this part that truly anchors the tree to the ground. The deeper this part is, the more likely a tree will survive in strong winds, drier soils or droughts.

J. Also called a branchlet, this is the part of the tree where leaves or leaf stems are produced. In the winter, new plant scales appear at the site where this growth will occur and form a bud that will protect the area from insects or drying out. These scales fall off in the spring. When leaves fall off in the autumn, they leave a leaf scar distinctive to each species that can help to identify the tree in winter when leaves are not present.


A. Bark
B. Flowers
C. Phloem
D. Xylem
E. Leaves
F. Seeds
G. Sapwood
H. Heartwood
I. Roots
J. Twig