A common symbol on gravestones trees have different interpretations on what they represent.
- The tree is a symbol of life; regeneration, regrowth and renewal
- It reflects human fruition or frailty
- Like a tree, man reaches towards Heaven
- The tree can also represent man’s sin with reference to the Garden of Eden
- Trees also represent knowledge, life, and time.
If a tree is felled it reflects death and mortality .
A tree trunk denotes the brevity of life, and the number of broken branches can indicate deceased family members buried at the site.
A severed or broken branch symbolizes a life cut short.
Each species of tree has a symbolic meaning:
- CEDAR TREE Consecration; Length of days; Strong faith; Success
- CYPRESS Death; Eternal life; Hope; Mourning; Sorrow; Roman symbol for mourning
- DOGWOOD Christianity; Divine sacrifice; Resurrection; Triumph of eternal life
- EVERGREENS Immortality
- HAWTHORN Hope; Merriness; Spring
- HOLLY Foresight
- MULBERRY I will not survive you
- OLIVE TREE Healing faith; Peace
- OLIVE BRANCH Forgiveness; Humanity; Peace
- PINE Fertility; Fidelity; Regeneration,
- YEW Eternal life; Immortality; Sadness
- WILLOW Human life
A sprouting tree represents a new beginning in the afterlife.
Sometimes the gravestone may be replaced with a ‘tree stone’ in the shape of a tree stump or log sculptured to resemble wood. This symbol is mostly used by the Woodmen of the World Fraternity.
When the trunk is leaning it represents mourning. Sometimes a tree stump will be shown with an ivy plant. It often relates to a premature death but can also represent immortality.