Growing Up - Tree Shapes

Another way you may be able to identify trees is by their shape. Look at the outline or shape of the tree's main trunk, all the branches and the leaves collectively. Just like your fingerprints, every kind of tree has its own unique shape. (Move your mouse over the graphic for more trees.)

Basic tree shapes are cone-shaped, square, rectangular and circular with some variations. But watch out: Where the tree grows can alter the tree's usual shape and fool you. Trees in a forest compete for sunlight and nutrients, and they grow towards the sunlight. Trees growing next to buildings can also change their natural shape.