Tree Symbolism & Meanings for All 56 Species (Willow, Oak, Olive, Pine, Yew, Cypress, Bonsai & More)

Woman inspecting a drawing of a tree of life with a magnifying glass wonders about tree symbolism, including oak tree symbolism, willow tree symbolism, palm tree meaning, olive tree meaning and more.

Tree symbolism is all about the meaning, significance, and interpretations that are associated with various types of trees and specific species of trees.

Trees are truly a blessing of nature. They offer shade, beauty, and a number of elementary needs for both humans and animals.

Whether you want to grow your own garden or simply remain curious about nature, learning what does a tree symbolize can help you connect with different plant species that remain essential to the survival of the Earth.

The following guide helps you get acquainted with some of the most popular trees and their meanings and recognize tree symbolism for over 56 trees.

Tree Symbolism Meaning: What Does a Tree Symbolize? (Tree Symbol)

In a general sense, trees symbolize the cycle of life, the power of nature, and the importance of growth.

These qualities not only provide you with different reasons to appreciate these gifts from Earth, but also let you explore the deeper messages that come directly from mother nature.

From finding your inner spirituality to understanding the turmoil that these patient beings go through, taking in the larger meaning of trees can benefit you in various ways.

Fish eye view of trees.

(Image: PxHere39)

However, certain trees carry distinct symbolism. From oak tree symbolism to palm tree meaning, learning about the messages behind trees can help you determine their personalities, their lifecycle, and their effects on you as well as your fellow humans.

By learning what does a tree symbolize, you can feel a deeper connection to different types and species of trees, while also being able to adopt trees that appeal to you with their symbolism. For instance, knowing more about cherry tree symbolism allows you to perceive the tree as more than just a lovely blooming tree that offers delicious fruit.

You may also use this information to express your emotions by presenting your family and friends with different trees37 that have a deeper symbolic meaning.

You can start by going through this quick table to learn more about tree symbolism for select genera and species.

From there, you can follow through with a detailed guide to tree symbolism & meanings for all 77 species (willow, oak, olive, pine, yew, cypress, bonsai & more).

Tree NameSymbolism
#1: Basswood TreesUnion, love, justice, adaptability, prosperity
#2: Magnolia TreeFortune, purity, healing
#3: Banyan TreeSacredness, enlightenment, growth
#4: Dogwood TreeRebirth, renewal, hope
#5: Willow TreeAdaptability, survival, fertility, life, grief, loss

A flowering dogwood tree.

Tree NameSymbolism
#6: Mulberry TreeFaith, growth, nature
#7: Pink Magnolia TreeLove, grace, youth, innocence, joy
#8: Sweet Bay Magnolia TreePurity, elegance, nobility
#9: Southern Magnolia TreeResilience, fortitude, longevity
#10: Chocolate Mimosa TreeAdaptability, change, fertility

A sweetbay magnolia tree with a mix of fresh green leaves and some brown leaves.

Tree NameSymbolism
#11: Desert Willow TreeFlexibility, adaptability, survival
#12: Hazelnut TreeFortune, fertility, productivity
#13: Eastern Cottonwood TreeProtection, resilience, guidance
#14: Narrowleaf CottonwoodChange, healing, hope
#15: Cashew TreeFertility, satisfaction, support

A southern magnolia tree with a combination of fresh green leaves showing the brown color on the bottom of the leaf.

Tree NameSymbolism
#16: Umbrella TreeFortune, positivity, protection
#17: Red Oak TreeLove, adaptability, transformation
#18: Lavender TreeSerenity, relaxation, calmness, purity
#19: Kumquat TreeFertility, fortune, prosperity
#20: Camphor TreeComfort, protection, guidance

A photograph of the bark of a red oak tree.

Tree NameSymbolism
#21: White Oak TreeRebirth, hope, serenity, peace
#22: Pinyon Pine TreeHealing, fertility, strength, clarity
#23: Beech TreeRevelation, change, conclusion, transformation
#24: Purple Weeping Willow TreeGrief, mourning, loss, soothness
#25: Black Walnut TreeFertility, perseverance, guidance, wisdom

A photograph of the bark of a white oak tree.

Tree NameSymbolism
#26: Dwarf Weeping Willow TreeGrief, mourning, rebirth
#27: Pink Willow TreeRenewal, fertility, resilience
#28: Dappled WillowLuck, rebirth, transformation
#29: Hibiscus TreeProsperity, fertility, opportunity
#30: Hickory TreeCommunity, trust, renewal, transformation

A blooming pink willow tree in spring, Tennessee.

Tree NameSymbolism
#31: Avocado TreeLove, fertility, prosperity, growth
#32: Blue Java Banana TreeTransformation, fertility, strength
#33: Blue Pine TreeImmortality, relaxation, peace
#34: Blue Arrow JuniperStrength, protection, revival
#35: Weeping White SpruceFertility, life, strength, protection

A photograph of pine tree saplings.

How Do You Learn More About Different Tree Symbol Meanings?

You can learn more about different tree symbol meanings by looking for expert opinions through sources such as magazines, gardening books, instructional materials, and credible online platforms.

Since some trees have cultural symbolism associated with them, it also helps to learn about the tree’s origins and what the natives of its respective region believe about it.

When you obtain this information through multiple sources that view tree symbolism through a multifaceted lens, you can be confident about looking at different tree species as more than simple plants. This gives you more appreciation for the types of trees that provide you with glorious sights to enjoy, flowers to admire, and fruits to consume.

If you have been thinking about growing trees by yourself, understanding tree symbolic meaning can also help you connect with your new plants at a more profound level and encourage you to care for your trees1 with more enthusiasm.

#36 Palm Tree Meaning: What Does Palm Tree Symbolism Mean?

Technically regarded as Arecaceae, a family of plants with a tree-like appearance, the palm tree has long been regarded as a symbol of triumph.2

While bearing no tree bark or tree rings, palm trees are known to be incredibly resilient against storms and hurricanes.

Button showing a crocodile tied on a palm tree.

(Image: Allison Meier40)

Where traditional trees can snap and give way under strong winds, palm trees can survive these challenges due to their bendy structure.

The date palm, one of the most popular Arecaceae, dates back to as early as 4000 BCE.2 Apart from establishing the palm tree’s ancient roots, this also strengthens the claims of the tree being used as a symbol of strength and victory in ancient Greece and ancient Rome.

Palm tree meaning also signifies eternal life, peace, and victory in the three main Abrahamic religions.

#37 Maple Tree Symbolism: What Is the Symbolism of Maple Tree?

The maple tree is known for its penchant for growth and survival even when it’s transplanted from one location to the other. This makes it symbolizes the qualities of endurance and strength.

Since maple trees have positively stunning fall foliage in shades of orange and red, they are also referred to as a sign of adaptability, promise, and balance in the face of challenges. The beautiful aesthetic also associates them with serenity.

Since some maple trees produce maple syrup that is used in a variety of food items, they also stand for generosity. Maple trees can live for multiple centuries, with the sugar maple surviving for around 400 years.3

This makes the maple tree an icon of longevity.

In ancient cultures, the symbolism of maple tree held importance for keeping evil spirits away through its magical properties. This also makes maple trees a symbol for protection.

#38 Cherry Tree Symbolism: What Is Cherry Tree Symbolic Meaning?

Known for their allure and aesthetic, cherry trees stand as a symbol of beauty. The cherry blossoms that bloom around spring are also seen as a sign of renewal.4

But due to the short lifespan of the blossoms that last for about two weeks as well as the trees themselves typically last for around 20 years,5 cherry blossom tree symbolism is also associated with the inevitability of death.

Cherry flowers with Buddha on their background.

(Image: PxHere41)

At the same time, the feeling of positivity, festivity, and warmth that cherry trees evoke in humans during their bloom also earns them the symbolism of celebrating life to the fullest. This makes cherry trees a highly sought-after tree species that can help you get in touch with your spirituality and encourage you to cherish what matters in life.

What Is Willow Tree Symbolism?

The willow tree is perhaps best known for being a symbol of adaptability,6 survival, and new life. It obtains this status due to holding its own in the face of rough winds and weather with little to no damage to its flexible structure.

In ancient Chinese culture, willow trees were also seen as a sign of protection by many.

Since many willow trees can survive for approximately 300 years, they are also regarded as a sign of longevity. This willow tree symbolism is further fortified by how easy it is for new willow saplings to grow out of a simple branch rooted in Earth, which signifies fertility.

This also makes willow trees a widely seen species in their native regions. With that being said, some willow trees are seen as a symbol of grief and loss7 as well.

#39 Oak Tree: What Is Oak Tree Symbolism?

With approximately 500 different species,9 the oak tree remains one of the most popular trees in the world. Due to its wide outreach and its tendency to survive for many centuries, the oak tree has become associated with longevity in different cultures around the world.8

Since oak trees can survive for hundreds of years, they also earn the status of being a symbol of strength.

But oak trees do more than just survive. They are also good at thriving for as long as they live in good health.

Due to their ability to produce large amounts of acorns, they also represent fertility.

By producing substantial amounts of acorns that can turn into future oaks, oak trees also establish their presence as a symbol of robustness.

#40 Olive Tree Meaning: What Does Olive Tree Symbolism Outline?

With the widely iterated symbolism of extending an olive branch to end the confrontation, it is not difficult to determine that olive tree symbolism is most popularly associated with peace. In ancient Greek mythology, olive trees also symbolize victory,11 protection, and recognition.

The olive tree is also often referred to as a symbol of hope and fortune and remains important to religions including Christianity and Islam.9

With heaps of positive symbolism, the olive tree has also become popular among modern gardeners.10 While the tree grows best in regions with warm climates, it can still survive in other areas with proper care.

This once again circles back to the status of olive tree meaning as a carrier of hope.

#41 Pine Tree: What Is Pine Tree Symbolism?

Holding approximately 115 species, the genus of pine tree is known as one of the world’s most popular evergreen.

With a typical lifespan of 100-1,000 years,14 pine trees are known for their longevity.

Twisted bark of bristlecone.

(Image: Dcrjsr42)

A Great Basin bristlecone pine tree, named Methuselah, stands tall as one of the oldest living organisms in the world at around 4,800 years of age. This makes pine trees a symbol of eternal life, perhaps more than anything else.

However, pine trees still exhibit other symbolisms. For instance, the evergreen nature of pine trees makes them associated with immortality.11

Pine tree symbolism also holds greater meanings in different cultures. For instance, pine trees can be seen as a sign of wisdom by Native Americans,12 which makes these trees go a step beyond their popularity for being status of life.

#42 Yew Tree: What Is Yew Tree Meaning?

Of all the popular types of trees in the world, the yew tree arguably holds the most interesting symbolism. Simultaneously associated with life and death, the yew tree symbolic meaning holds many layers.

The association of the yew tree with death comes from the tree’s highly toxic composition. With nearly all of its parts riddled with poison, the yew tree stands out as one of the most toxic plants13 in the world.

This poses a danger to animals and humans who ingest the tree bark or leaves in quantities or forms that are lethal.

However, the yew tree’s symbolism of life comes from its medicinal properties. While Native Americans and the Japanese used yew to treat conditions such as arthritis and diabetes[14], respectively, modern medicine experts utilize yew to treat cancer.15

This makes yew a tree that is equal parts associated with toxicity and healing.

#43 Joshua Tree: What Is Joshua Tree Meaning?

Also known as yucca, Joshua trees16 are believed to have earned their popular name by Mormon settlers in 19th-century United States, who named it after the biblical figure. Apart from this association, Joshua trees are known as symbols of resilience due to thriving in arid conditions that are not suitable for many other trees.

Found in the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico, Joshua trees have become popular for retaining moisture within their thick barks17 and being a source of hydration during extreme drought. This also associates Joshua tree meaning with guidance, shelter, and survival.

It is important to note that Joshua trees are tree-like plants that get identified as trees due to their appearance.

#44 Fig Tree: What Is Fig Tree Symbolism?

The fig tree symbolic meaning is rooted in ancient human civilization. Research suggests that figs were first grown more than 11,400 years ago,18 which makes them the first crop to be domesticated by ancient humans.

This gives fig trees the symbolism of strength and survival, while also associating them with abundance and fertility.

Apart from these traits, fig tree symbolism also holds a deeper meaning in the three main Abrahamic religions. It has been mentioned in the Bible,23 the Tanakh,24 and the Quran,19 where it is often described as a symbol of penance, peace, and prosperity, respectively.

This makes it a tree that is associated with spirituality as well.

#45 Tree of Life: What Is Tree of Life Symbolism?

The tree of life stands as one of the most popular examples of symbolism.26 It is not a “real” tree, although it is mentioned heavily in the books Genesis and Revelation in the Bible.

Image of the tree of life in an old book.

(Image: William Holmes43)

The tree of life is often associated with the interconnectivity of life20 and events that occur.

Tree of life symbolism has had many popular interpretations. In Celtic culture, the tree of life represents the link of heaven and Earth, while in Norse mythology, it is known as a way to connect different worlds.

#46 Christmas Tree: What Is Christmas Tree Symbolism?

The Christmas tree celebrates the birth of Jesus and symbolizes different aspects of the life of the biblical figure. To many, the tree’s branches signify Christ’s crown of thorns,21 while its foliage represents life.

Since traditional Christmas trees are evergreen, they also symbolize eternal life. The act of lighting up the Christmas tree is traditionally associated with celebrating Christ as the world’s light.

Apart from this, the Christmas tree is sometimes seen as a representation of the tree of life, which has been mentioned in the bible beside the tree of knowledge of good and evil. With that being said, Christmas tree symbolism is now often seen as a sign for celebrating the holiday season.

This makes different types of Christmas trees a staple across households with varied sets of faith.

#47 Ash Tree: What Is Ash Tree Symbolism?

In Norse mythology, the tree of life called Yggdrasill is depicted as an ash tree.22 Since Yggdrasill is known for supporting the universe and interconnecting different worlds, the ash tree stands tall with the symbolism of strength and everlasting life.

In ancient Greece, ash was regarded as a sign of birth and creation due to creating the first man.23

In many ancient cultures, the ash tree was also seen as a symbol of protection from evil. Thanks to their ability to grow over 18 feet under a decade,24 ash trees are also seen as a symbol of strength and growth.

This ash tree symbolism is further cemented by the sturdy structure of these trees. In Celtic mythology, ash trees are associated with fire25 due to being burnt at the eve of the summer season to protect crops and cattle.

This also has them symbolizes rebirth.

#48 Cypress Tree: What Is Cypress Tree Symbolism?

The cypress tree may have some of the most macabre symbolisms in trees, but it still appeals to those who embrace life with all its shades of light and dark. In Classical mythology, cypress is associated with mourning33 and the underworld, the latter of which itself represents death.

According to Greek mythology, Cyparissus turned into a tree after mourning the death of his stag, whom he killed accidentally.33

But cypress tree symbolism also represents positive aspects. For one, the tree is often depicted in the motifs of the tree of life.

Bald cypress trees can also survive thousands of years, with a specific tree found to be living over 2,600 years26 in North Carolina. This makes cypress trees associated with everlasting life.

Additionally, cypress trees are also aligned with healing, which is one of the most purifying experiences in life. Asclepius, one of the Greek gods associated with healing,27 carried a cypress wood staff.28

#49 Bonsai Tree Meaning: What Is Bonsai Tree Symbolism?

Bonsai trees are miniature trees that are grown in small containers, usually indoors. This means that a bonsai tree is not a species itself, but a way to grow different tree species in smaller sizes.36

Due to the time, training, and effort that it takes to grow and maintain a bonsai tree, it symbolizes the traits of patience, adaptability, and resilience.

Knowing how to care for a bonsai tree can help you connect with nature and de-stress through the practice, bonsai tree symbolism also remains associated with inner peace and relaxation.

You can also combine the symbolism with the types of trees that you decide to grow through the art of bonsai.

#50 Birch Tree: What Is Birch Tree Symbolism?

Birch tree is known for its slender and mysterious appearance. But they are more than a dramatic sight in the forest.

Due to their ability to withstand harsh conditions and make their way through ideal growth, they symbolize hope and the use of opportunities through example.

Since birch trees are popular for their ability to grow in forests that are previously damaged, they also symbolize renewal.29 This earns birch trees their association with stability as well as the act of finding the light within challenging situations.

Because of these qualities, birch tree symbolism is often aligned with structure.

#51 Linden Tree: What Is Linden Tree Symbolism?

Also known as the basswood trees or lime trees, the linden tree is generally considered a symbol of union and justice. The linden tree holds its roots in many cultures38 around the world.

In turn, it has also garnered different meanings for what it represents in the regions where it is grown. It has been associated with love in German culture; symbolized maternal affection in Greek mythology, and offered sacred solace to those in the Far East.

Lime tree has also proven their ability to grow in different conditions,30 which also associates it with adaptability. It can also withstand extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, which allows it to become a sign of strength and change.

Linden tree symbolism is also aligned with prosperity due to the impressive foliage and structure of these trees.

#52 Elm Tree: What Is Elm Tree Symbolism?

Commonly found in different forms of art, elm trees are popular for their magnificent and rich appearance. With its sturdy structure and strong shade, the elm tree is also associated with strength and power.

In Greek mythology, the tree has been mentioned as a sign of respect for fallen figures.

Due to their tall but calming aesthetic, elm tree symbolism is also associated with peace, relaxation, and sleep. But despite this mellow symbolism, their imposing strength and their penchant to grow in almost any climate still have them stand in line with the traits of revolution.

Their ability to withstand varied weather conditions and flourish under challenges where many other trees would wither also makes them a sign of hope.

#53 Money Tree: What Is Money Tree Symbolism?

Also known as Pachira aquatica, Malabar chestnut, and Guiana chestnut among many other names, the Money tree stays true to its more popular name and stands as a symbol of good luck.31

While it can reach heights of around 60 feet outdoors, the money tree is often known as a houseplant that stays much shorter indoors.

In its indoor form, the money tree comes with a braided trunk to serve as an ornamental plant or bonsai tree.

Miniature money tree placed on top of a table.

(Image: PxFuel44)

The origin of the money tree’s name is typically believed to be folklore,4 which tells the story of a man who prayed for good fortune, found the money tree, and got his wish by selling plants derived from it.

Whether true or not, the money tree’s symbolisms drive heavy influence from the story and encourage people to follow money tree care routines in their households.

Apart from good luck, money tree symbolism is also associated with fortune,32 wealth, and prosperity.

#54 Sycamore Tree: What Is Sycamore Tree Symbolism?

Holding significant affiliations with religious symbolism, the sycamore tree is known for representing divinity. In ancient Egypt, sycamore trees were mentioned in the Book of the Dead33 as being planted at the gate of heaven, as well as being associated with Egyptian goddesses, especially Hathor who was dubbed the Lady of the Sycamore.

In Christianity, the sycamore-fig tree holds significance for being mentioned in the Bible as the tree that Zacchaeus climbed to be able to look at Jesus Christ and find retribution.

Apart from divine references, sycamore is also known for being a symbol of strength and resilience due to living around 200 years old24 or more despite being prone to challenges such as leaf drops and heartwood rot34. While the former affects the tree’s leaves and the latter hollow its trunk, it benefits the wildlife who can find shelter within the tree.

This makes sycamore tree symbolism associated with protection.

#55 Juniper Tree: What Is Juniper Tree Symbolism?

With their astounding ability to grow out of adverse terrain and thrive under difficult conditions, Juniper tree symbolism is associated with their incredible resilience and survival.35 In order to support their existence, Juniper trees hold a large root system that provides them with nourishment from deeper layers of the Earth.

This also outlines them as a symbol of strength. By providing rocky surfaces with greenery, Juniper trees also highlight themselves as being associated with beauty.

Since Juniper trees boast of rich foliage, they can provide humans and animals with shade in places that have no other trees available nearby. This also associates them with protection.

Additionally, their fruit which can provide animals with sustenance further establishes them as a symbol of functionality.

#56 Lemon Tree: What Is Lemon Tree Symbolism?

Thanks to its delicious fruit that has become synonymous with freshness and health, the lemon tree has become known for exuding these qualities. As a result, the lemon tree is associated with cleansing, wellness, and healing.

With that, due to the variety of uses that lemons bring to the table, the lemon tree has also become known as a symbol of prolificity.

At its maturity, a lemon tree can produce fruit all year round in warm climates.36 This along with the quality of bearing a ubiquitous fruit in significant quantities also closely groups it together with fertility.

This also associates lemon tree symbolism with positivity.

What Do Trees and Their Meanings Teach Us?

From resilience to revival and everything in between, trees teach us many qualities to make our way through life with our heads held high. However, their importance can get marred by the existential threats that are caused by deforestation and climate change.

This makes it important for you to learn about tree symbolism & meanings for all 77 species (willow, oak, olive, pine, yew, cypress, bonsai & more).

Understanding tree symbolism is a fun hobby, and knowing what the meaning of these trees has been in the past can enrich your appreciation of the forest.

Read More About Tree Symbolism


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