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Q: Why is it when you carve your initials in a tree that years later they're still at the same height from the ground?

A: Tree branches grow from their ends, and the limbs and trunk increase in diameter by growing outward from their central point. In other words, trees (and shrubs, for that matter) get higher and wider not by growing upward from the ground but outward from their ends. So, your initials will remain on the trunk at the same height forever.

Grass, on the other hand, does grow from the bottom up, so if you were to carve your initials on a blade of grass (using an Exacto-knife, I guess), your initials would get higher as the leaf blade grows.

But, I must admonish those who carve their initials into the tree! This wounds the tree, and is especially bad for thin-barked trees like beeches. Unfortunately, it seems beeches are chosen because of the fact that their bark is thin, and the initials are easily seen.

However, it's still not good to carve your initials into any tree. If you are expressing your affection for a loved one, I suggest that you plant a tree instead. If you have the urge to carve, I recommend a turkey at Thanksgiving!

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Tom Mugridge

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