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Can a Tree Survive Without Branches?

When you picture trees in your head, what image comes to mind? We’re going to assume it includes long branches with lots of leaves or pine needles on them. But what happens if a tree’s branches need to be removed due to disease or infestation? Can a tree survive without branches?

The short answer is no. A tree will not be able to survive if all of its branches are cut off. This is why it’s important that, when you’re pruning your tree, you make sure you don’t over-prune it. Pruning and trimming your trees not only keeps your landscape looking its best, but it keeps your trees at their healthiest too. This is why regular tree pruning is critical.

But this is also why it’s important to hire a professional tree pruning service to do it for you. They know the line between removing and/or trimming what needs to go and leaving enough branches so the tree can remain healthy. A tree without branches cannot survive and here are just some of the reasons why.

Structural Support

The branches of a tree provide structural support both to the tree itself and to any flowers, fruit, or leaves that the tree produces. Without branches, the tree won’t be able to produce anything, as there will be nowhere for them to grow. Branches are necessary not only for a tree to thrive, but also so they can propagate.

Additionally, the branches and leaves of a tree account for about 20 percent of the total weight of the tree. This means that branches actually do help in the anchoring and strengthening of the tree.

Vessels for Food

Branches not only support whatever the tree is meant to produce, but they also act as the vessel in which the food travels. Branches carry the water from the soil to the leaves, allowing them to grow to their fullest. In addition to this, branches also then carry the food the leaves produce through photosynthesis to the rest of the tree. This ensures the tree is receiving all the nutrients it needs to be at its healthiest, and a healthy tree is one that looks good, grows tall, and lasts a long time.

Capture Sunlight

Tree branches grow in different ways. Some reaching up, some reaching down, and some stretched parallel to the ground. This is because the branches of a tree, along with the leaves it produces, grow in a specific way to capture as much sunlight as possible. Without branches, the tree won’t be able to take in any of the sunlight that it needs for survival. This is especially important for young trees that are still growing, as they tend to need more sunlight than older trees. If a young tree doesn’t receive the proper amount of sunlight, there’s a great chance it will become sick before it can even mature.

Store Food

You know how squirrels hoard nuts during the winter months so they don’t need to go looking for them once there’s snow on the ground and cold in the air? The branches of a tree do something similar. They store any unused food right there in the branches. The tree will then use this unused food when it needs it, especially during the colder winter months.


One of the reasons people plant trees in their yards is to beautify the space. What makes the tree beautiful? It’s leaves, among other things. For many people, the branches and leaves are the main focal point of a tree. A tree without branches is essentially just one large stump, which can not only be dangerous, but it also doesn’t look very nice.

Additionally, branches are what gives trees their uniqueness. Not only do arborists use branches, leaves, flowers, and seeds to identify tree species, but each tree has its own individual shape. Some trees have branches that come straight out of their trunk. Other trees have branches that grow in peculiar and interesting directions. This gives your yard more texture, and depending on what blooms on the tree, maybe even more color.

When Cutting Is Necessary

As you can see, the branches of a tree are critical to a tree’s survival. However, one important thing to note is that you must get rid of any dead branches on a tree. As mentioned above, this is why regular tree pruning is important. Dead branches and limbs can lead to disease or rot of the tree, which will cause the entire tree to need to be removed. Regular pruning will prevent that. Just be cautious not to over-prune your trees.

There are times when tree branch removal is needed. This should only happen to the branches that are dead, not to every single branch on the tree. It’s a common assumption that tree branches will grow back once they’re removed, but this is not always true. For instance, if you destroy the tree branches by not removing them correctly, the branches won’t grow back. However, if you hire a professional arborist, there’s a much more likely chance that they will grow back.

When a tree branch is removed, the tree will form a special callous tissue (think of scars for humans). This callous tissue covers the raw wound of where the branch was cut and helps keep out decay and disease. If a branch is removed correctly and the callous tissue fully forms, that increases the chances of a new healthy branch growing again in that area.

All parts of a tree are important to its health and longevity, and branches are no different. A tree without branches won’t survive. Branches are too important to its growth, both in terms of creating and transporting needed nutrients and storing unused food to be used later. Because of this, it’s important to make sure the branches are always at their healthiest, and regular pruning will ensure this. Contact the experts at Mr. Tree if you need help with your tree pruning or trimming needs.