Trees are often viewed as being a symbol of life and strength. They are one of the most symbolic types of tattoos out there, which is why they also happen to be extremely popular. Rarely are two tree tattoos the same, so they are also considered to be very personal tattoos while also being the type that people don’t mind showing to others.
The tree tattoo meaning used typically varies based on the type of tree selected, so that will be a major part of your decision when you’re thinking about getting one of these tattoos. You’ll also want to think about how large you want your tattoo to be and which one of the many tree tattoo meanings you want to attach to it.
On this page, we will take a look at many of the most popular tree tattoo designs and why they have remained so popular over the years. You will also learn about many of the tree tattoo meanings that people use so you can decide if this is the type of tattoo that you should get.
Tree Tattoo Meaning
Although each tree type has its own symbolism, the tree in general symbolizes rejuvenation, regeneration and life. This meaning is derived from the life cycle of a tree. In spring the tree begins to grow flowers and leaves, in the summer the tree is in full bloom, in the fall the leaves begin to change color and fall to earth and come winter the leaves are gone and the tree is left bare. Once spring arrives the cycle begins anew. This is representative of the “circle of life”.
The circle of life tree tattoo meaning is the most common of all. Someone who uses this meaning can look at their tattoo to remind themselves that there’s always something new around the corner. No matter how bad their day has done, they can look at their tree tattoo and know that better times are ahead. It is a very motivational tattoo design in most cases and one that the owner can look at to raise their mood a bit.
In ancient cultures, the tree tattoo was used to show one’s social rank. Often times the tree was seen as a symbol of nobility or high social status. This is not a common tree tattoo meaning these days, but some people will still get their tree tat to show that they are proud of their family’s standing in the world.
The tree is also known as a symbol of your connection to your ancestors and family. The tree tattoo can represent generations of your family. Just like a line of ancestry, the tree starts as a seed and then grows out. Off every branch come more smaller branches representing off shoots of the family. Each fruit from the branch gives life to a new generation to start their own branch of this ever-growing tree.
The tree of life also represents family through the network or growth or branches which shows the continuity and connection between all generations. We are all connected through the ever-growing system of branches. Every branch traces back to a bigger branch which represents grandparents and the grandparents before them.
The tree also symbolizes growth of the human spirit and body from a youth to a unique and beautiful person. When trees start as saplings, most of them look very similar. As a tree grows older, like a human, they live through storms that end up shaping what they look like. This is extremely similar to how humans grow up and have experiences that shape the kind of people they end up being. The more intense the storm, the stronger the roots grow.
This leads us to the tree being a representation of strength. As a young tree, the roots aren’t very stable and can be pulled up by strong weather. Over time, the roots become strong, grow deeper and extend further. The trunk grows thicker and branches grow tall and strong. This is a representation of our strength. People grow strong over time and just like the tree we keep getting stronger with new experiences and knowledge.
Ancient cultures also considered tree tattoos to be sacred and were only allowed to be worn by those of noble birth. If a person was caught wearing a tree tattoo but were not of noble descent, they would be punished, oftentimes by death. As you might expect, some people will now get a tree tattoo to show that they are not the types to play by the rules.
Tree tattoos can be designed in a variety of ways. Some opt to portray just the bark, while some will just contain the top branches. They also can vary based on the number of branches and leaves and the presence or lack thereof, of roots. All of these features change the tree tattoo meaning, sometimes in big ways.
The majority of the characteristics are dependent on the type of tree chosen. A lot of thought has to go into which tree you choose to use in your tree tattoo since they can hold very different meanings.
Popular types of trees include:
The Tree of Life Tattoo
The meaning of this tree can vary from society to society, but the general idea is the same. This tree is a symbol of immortality, knowledge, strength, abundance, forgiveness and salvation. It is often drawn with the roots and branches intertwined into a circle. Someone who gets the Tree of Life tattoo can use one of these meanings or they can choose to use the one that means the most to them at the present moment.
Ash Tree Tattoo
These trees are seen as an offering to god and typically have spiritual overtones. When someone gets an ash tree tattoo, they will often have other religious images surrounding it to make the meaning a bit clearer.
Birch Tree Tattoo
These tattoos can represent rebirth and renewal. Birch trees look great in groups, so someone who wants a birch tree tattoo will often get a larger tat to show off the beauty of these trees. It’s a great tree to get if you have been able to overcome very tough times in your life.
Bonsai Tree Tattoo
This tree represents peace, meditation and harmony. Obviously, this would be the best type of tree tattoo for someone who has a very positive outlook on life. It’s a very distinctive and beautiful tree, so some people will get the Bonsai tattoo for those reasons alone and add on more meaningful meanings later on.
Palm Tree Tattoo
Palm trees symbolize bending but not breaking as well as peace. Someone who has been able to remain positive even through very tough times in their lives will probably find the palm tree tattoo to be perfect for them.
Cherry Tree Tattoo
The cherry tree tattoo represents rebirth and awakenings. When the cherry tree blooms and shows its beautiful flowers, it symbolizes new romance, affection and love. It is also a representation of good fortune. By having the cherry tree tattoo, you might choose to invoke some better luck in your life.
Hazel Tree Tattoo
Also known as the Witch Hazel, the hazel tree is a symbol of wisdom and divination in ancient folk lore. It is also said that wearing the symbol of the hazel tree represents having cleansing healing power. The hazel tree tattoo is said to be able to take on these traits as well.
Juniper Tree Tattoo
The juniper tree tattoo is said to represent a great journey and staying true to yourself during this. To be able to go through difficult times without ever compromising your integrity is something to be celebrated. Those with the juniper tree tattoo have most likely made the tough journey and came through the other side unscathed and always stayed true to themselves.
Oak Tree Tattoo
The oak tree tattoo is a representation of a mighty tree that tells a story of power and courage. The mighty oak tree is said to be the strongest of all the trees so if your goal is to tell a story of power in your tattoo, you cannot go wrong with the oak tree tattoo.
Olive Tree Tattoo
Most of us have heard about the expression of extending an olive branch to someone. In most cases this is a peace offering. The olive tree tattoo can symbolize the same traits. However, it is also said the olive tree symbolizes purification, strength, fruitfulness, reward and victory.
Redwood Tree Tattoo
The redwood tree tattoo symbolizes the notion of forever and wisdom. The redwoods are some of the oldest trees in existence and are said to have experienced many things. If you sit under a redwood tree for long enough, you might hear the whispers of the redwood offering you the wisdom you might have been looking for.
Willow Tree Tattoo
The willow tree tattoo represents inner vision, dreams and learning from the past. In other words, it is a symbol that makes us look within and learn from things we have experienced. We often don’t notice the signs that are set out to help us learn. With the willow tree tattoo, we might be able to pick up on more of those signs.
Below we’ve posted some tree tattoos to look at for ideas or to just appreciate the art.