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Tree Growth

ommthreeommthree Posts: 314

This is as much a question on botany as anything. It's inspired by looking at my olive tree, but I suppose the same question applies to all trees.

The trunk seems to come to an end at some point, and give way to a jumble of smaller branches. So how does the tree grow? Does one of those branches become the main trunk and grow from its tip, or does the existing trunk extend? Obviously the trunk grows thicker, but does it also grow taller? The branches are so all-over-the-place that I can't imagine a way that my olive tree could grow from any of its growing tips and still retain its vertical trunk structure.

Thanks for any insight.

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  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,336

    Normally, if the growing point at the top of the main trunk is cut off (and it sounds like this has been done to your tree) one branch near the top will become dominant and is known as the 'leader'.  This will become the new trunk in time.  Can you post a photo of the whole tree so we can have a look at how it is currently growing?  It may need some formative pruning to help it grow into a good shape in the future.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • ommthreeommthree Posts: 314

    Thanks for the info. That makes a lot of sense.

    I'm attaching some pics now. You can see the way the trunk kind of disappears in the second picture. The added issue with this tree is that something nibbled out the growing tips on every branch last year. (It was a caterpillar-like thing that left web-like material behind.) You can see the tip of the top-most branch, which appears to be re-growing from a side shoot, as are several others. Meanwhile, unfortunately quite a few of the branches look more like the last picture, with the existing leaves happy enough, but no sign of any fresh buds developing anywhere. Any advice gratefully received. Thanks!

    This is what the tree looks like:

    image

     

    This is the top of the trunk:

    image

     

    This is the uppermost branch:

    image

     

    This is a more typical branch:

    image

     

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,336

    That looks a pretty good shape to me and it will start showing new shoots soon (it's a bit early for them to appear yet on an olive grown outside in the UK.)  Have a look at the RHS advice on growing and pruning olive trees:

    http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch/Profile.aspx?pid=138

     

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • ommthreeommthree Posts: 314

    Thanks Bob. I think then I'll just let it grow for a bit and see what happens next!

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