The tree as a symbol of life; regeneration, regrowth and renewal also reflects human fruition or frailty. A common symbol on gravestones a tree can also represent man’s sin with reference to the Garden of Eden. It is also representative of knowledge, life, and time.
A sprouting tree represents a new beginning in the afterlife.
If a tree is felled it reflects death and mortality.
A severed or broken branch symbolizes a life cut short.
A tree trunk denotes the brevity of life, and the number of broken branches can indicate deceased family members buried at the site.
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 Woodsmen of the World Fraternity. When the trunk is leaning it represents mourning. Sometimes a tree stump will be shown with an ivy plant which often relates to a premature death but can also represent immortality.
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