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What are the parts of a tree called?

List of names for the different parts of a forest ecosystem.
New Zealand beech forest - looking through the trees to the sky.
© Wiki Media Commons

Here is a list of vocabulary you will need to understand the articles about forests. As you go through the list, make a note of words that are new to you.

There are also three activities for you to do.


  • organism: a living thing
  • flora: plant life
  • fauna: animal life

Parts of a tree

  • trunk
  • branch
  • leaves
  • flowers
  • crown

lemonwood Figure 1: Parts of the native lemonwood tree (image source: R. Genet and public domain)

Activity 1

What is your favorite flowering native tree in your country?
Find a picture of your favorite tree and label the different parts.

Forest Layers

Forests have five layers:

  • Forest floor: a layer of leaves, twigs, branches, tree trunks, droppings from animals, layer of mosses, fungi, ferns, grasses, and seedlings
  • Understorey or Shrub layer: layer of small trees called shrubs


Kawakawa is a shrub found in the understorey layer

  • Sub-canopy: young trees, tree ferns, vines

Ponga (image source: Wiki Media Commons)

  • Canopy: the tops of most of the large tress touch and form a layer

Canopy (image source: Wiki Media Commons)

  • Emergent layer: these are the tallest trees in the forest. Their crowns stand above the canopy.

emergent layer (image source: Wiki Media Commons)

See the diagram below:

forest layers

Figure 2: Forest layers. (image adapted from

Activity 2

What is your favorite forest type in your country?

Create a simple labelled diagram showing the forest layers.

Provide a picture or sketch the main tree species in each layer and paste it onto the diagram.

Types of trees


These are trees that have flowers and fruit with seeds. The cherry tree is a hardwood.


Cedars, firs and pines are conifers. They are also called softwoods. They do not have flowers and they don’t have fruit. They have male and female cones. Pollen from the small male cones fertilise an ovule in the female cone and a seed is produced.


Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter, for example the Japanese maple.


Evergreen trees are those that do not lose their leaves. Conifers are evergreen and so are all New Zealand native trees.


© Ray Genet NMIT
This article is from the free online

EAL: English Language for Nature Conservation and Sustainability

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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