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Tree Growth & Development: What Arborists Need to Know

May 1 @ 8:30 am - 3:30 pm
Instructor: Tom Hinckley CEUs: 6.0 ALMT / 6.0 B-S

Understanding how trees grow is a foundation for the practice of arboriculture. However, if one picks up a current article about woody plants, one can be overwhelmed with jargon (determinate, indeterminate, apical dominance vs. apical control, isohydric and anisohydric responses to water stress, embolism, cavitation, hydraulic redistribution, hydraulic architecture, hydraulic vulnerability, carbon starvation, role of aquaporins in membrane function, …). Is it all garbage or can you improve your understanding of trees by having these terms explained?

Taught by Tom Hinckley, UW Emeritus Professor of Woody Plant Physiology, this workshop will cover the basics of tree biology and how trees grow in response to their environment. The instructor will describe concepts of tree growth and development in a practical way that arborists can use in their work. Topics covered include meristems and their functions, growth patterns, tree responses to stress, tree competition and mortality, and how trees get water from roots to their canopies. The workshop includes a lecture and provides hands-on examples with whole trees and tree parts from a range of circumstances and species.


Location: Rotary Field House at South Surrey Recreation Center Complex, 2197 148 St, Surrey, BC, V4A 9P5, Canada

8:30am - 10:15am, Introduction and Part 1

Review of the basics of tree growth and development

  • Question and small group activity
  • Responses – capturing key observations and ideas

Review Four Part Presentation with two extra parts

  • Parts of a tree and their function(s)
  • Rules of Growth
  • Growth and Development over time
  • How trees respond to stress

Part 1: Focus on Meristems, locations, functions, morphological or structural outcomes

10:15am - 10:30am, Break

10:30am - 12:00pm, Part 2

Part 2: Rules of growth

  • Rules of aboveground growth: introduction to concept of modular growth and controls of the form and number of modules actually growing.
  • Control factors, concept of branch autonomy, dormant buds (adventitious and epicormic buds)
  • Rules of belowground (root) growth.
  • Rules of cambial or secondary growth

12:00pm - 12:30pm, Lunch Break

12:30pm - 2:00pm, Parts 3 and 4

Part 3: Growth and Development in Space and Time

  • Growth in time
    • True versus Imposed Dormancy
    • Frost hardening
  • Growth in space
    • Apical dominance versus apical control
  • Specific focus on stem growth and anatomy in time (and function).

Part 4: How woody plants deal with water, light, and temperature stress

  • Model of how plants respond to stress
  • Model of how plants allocate carbon under no stress or stress conditions
  • Examination of different stresses and how they affect trees
    • Water or drought (stomatal closure, xylem cavitation, carbon starvation)
    • Light Stress
    • Temperature Stress

2:00pm - 2:15pm,  Break

2:15pm - 3:30pm, Parts 5 and 6

Part 5: Four hot topics with trees

  • How does water get to the top of tall trees?
  • Regional species die-offs
  • The individual tree versus a guild of organisms
  • Hydraulic redistribution

Part 6: Tom’s gee-whiz stuff

3:30pm, Summary and Closure


Tom Hinckley studies tissue to whole tree responses to environmental stresses. He is particularly interested in the water and nutrient relations, carbon economy, and growth of trees from diverse ecosystems. Recent emphases have been on the understanding of structural-functional relationships using Populus as a model system, and on scaling leaf and twig level measures of water loss to the branch, tree, and stand levels in such species as hybrid Populus, Abies amabilis, and Pseudotsuga menziesii. For the latter species, he has been using the Wind River Canopy Crane Research Facility.

Refund Policy

  • Cancellations made at least 10 days prior to the event will be refunded at 100%.
  • Cancellations made within 5-9 days of the event will be refunded at 75%.
  • Cancellations made within 1-4 days of the event will be refunded at 50%.
  • Refunds will not be made available for no-shows.

Late Registration

  • Participants are expected to enroll prior to the registration deadline.
  • Participants can register at the door of the event only if space is available. Individuals will need to pack their own lunch.
  • Late registration is possible on a space available basis. You can contact our office at (800) 335-4391. There may, or may not be, room available for those who show up without registering ahead of time for the workshop. We encourage you to register for the workshop in advance.

Allied Professionals are members of allied organizations. See our list of qualifying organizations.


Rotary Field House at South Surrey Recreation Center Complex
2197 148 St
Surrey, British Columbia V4A 9P5 Canada