What Is the Crown of a Tree? A Guide for Tampa Residents

Arborist Aboard, your certified arborist in Tampa, is here to answer your arboreal questions. In this post, we look at “What is the crown of a tree?” Read on to learn more about this vital plant component.

What Is the Tree Crown Definition? 

Understanding a tree canopy starts with knowing more about its most important part. The crown is the top of a tree, and it:

  • Helps to cool the trunk by providing shade
  • Absorbs the impact of heavy rain
  • Filters out dust and dirt 

Therefore, the tree crown structure is one of the most crucial components. Its importance is why a tree will often die if you lop off its top. 

The Different Parts of a Tree Crown

What is the crown of a tree? We spoke about the top of the plant. However, that can look different depending on the species and the specific tree crown function. 


This type of crown soars over any other plants in the area. It’s necessary when your tree requires more direct sunlight than the surrounding plants. These species typically grow tall and outwards, being larger at the top than at the bottom. 

They receive light from the top and sides. American beeches, birches, and hickories are all examples of this type. 


These species require less direct sunlight, so they don’t have to be as big. They tend to have smaller crowns and might be bushier at their base than at their tops. They may receive a little light from the sides, but it’s mainly from the top. 

Conifers, maples, and oaks are good examples. 


These crowns receive some direct sunlight, but the sides don’t. These crowns will reach the lower reaches of the canopy ceiling but won’t get as tall as dominant trees. They tend to have smaller leaves. 

Examples include the American Hornbeam, Chokecherry, and Dogwoods. 

Suppressed or Overtopped

These trees don’t receive any direct sunlight, and they don’t reach canopy height at all. They can be of almost any species and typically represent trees that didn’t grow as quickly as their competitors. The result is that they remain stunted and have less foliage than usual.

These might be saplings from the main trees in a forest. It may seem like a waste, but it’s a natural failsafe. If any of the big trees die and fall, the smaller ones will spring up to replace them. 

What Can You Do with the Crown?

You can declutter the branches and remove dead wood. However, you should never top the tree. Topping is the practice of cutting off just about all of the branches in the canopy. At best, it maims your tree; at worst, it kills it. 

You can:

  • Raise the crown to improve clearance or sightlines under the tree. You can do this by removing the lower branches. It can also be a useful cosmetic procedure if you have a smaller garden and would like more space around the tree’s base. 
  • Reduce the crown to help contain it better. This technique means cutting away foliage and some of the smaller twigs without actually impacting the tree’s infrastructure. 
  • Thin it to improve air circulation and light penetration. It’s a good way to prevent mildew and other fungal infections. You can also thin some of the branches to stop them rubbing together or to remove competing leaders. 

Contact Our Team for Advice Today!

Now that you can answer, “What is the crown of a tree?” what else can we help you with? Do you need to learn more about tree trimming benefits, or are you worried your plants are sick? 

Call Arborist Aboard at 813-920-4410 to schedule a professional consultation today!


Arborist Aboard is owned and operated by an ISA Certified Arborist and a second-generation tree care professional. We take great pride in our work and the customers we serve, commercial and residential.

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8611 Vivian Bass Way
Odessa, FL. 33556

(813) 920-4410

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