Quotes about Trees for People that Love Nature

These quotes about trees are from many different people, across a wide spectrum of cultures.

Every tree tells a story, but some are beyond eloquent, holding memories, embodying belief, marking sorrow.

We hold trees in our imagination, where they grow in strange, wonderful ways in forests inhabited by fantasy and also by our fears. In fable and legend, a forest shelters spirits, witches, and once upon a time, a big bad wolf.

We incorporate the rich metaphors that trees provide: We turn over a new leaf and branch out; ideas blossom and bear fruit. Though our momentum is sapped, our resolve remains deep-rooted, and yet there are times when we can’t see the forest for the trees.

quotes about trees
Trees on the shore ©Samuel Ferrara
  • A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year. That means two mature trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four!
  • One tree can absorb as much carbon in a year as a car produces while driving 26,000 miles.
  • Over the course its life, a single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide.
  • The average tree in an urban/city area has a life expectancy of only 8 years.

Quotes about Trees

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

– John Muir

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”

– Quotes about trees from William Blake

“The planting of a tree, especially one of the long-living hardwood trees, is a gift which you can make to posterity at almost no cost and with almost no trouble, and if the tree takes root it will far outlive the visible effect of any of your other actions, good or evil.”

– Quotes about trees from George Orwell

“Rilke wrote: ‘These trees are magnificent, but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them, as though with their growth it too increased.”

– Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

“Here is Menard’s own intimate forest: ‘Now I am traversed by bridle paths, under the seal of sun and shade…I live in great density…Shelter lures me. I slump down into the thick foliage…In the forest, I am my entire self. Everything is possible in my heart just as it is in the hiding places in ravines. Thickly wooded distance separates me from moral codes and cities.”

walking in the forest
Explore ©Casey Horner

– Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

– Chris Maser, Forest Primeval: The Natural History of an Ancient Forest

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“To enter a wood is to pass into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed.”

– Roger Deakin, Wildwood: A Journey through Trees

“The Chinese count wood as the fifth element, and Jung considers trees an archetype. Nothing can compete with these larger-than-life organisms for signalling the changes in the natural world.

They are our barometers of the weather and of the changing seasons.

We tell the time of year by them. Trees have the capacity to rise to the heavens and connect us to the sky, to endure, to renew, to bear fruit, and to burn and warm us through the winter.

I know of nothing quite as elemental as the log fire glowing in my hearth, nothing that excites the imagination and the passions quite as much as its flames.

To Keats, the gentle cracklings of the fire were whisperings of the household gods ‘that keep / A gentle reminder o’er fraternal souls.”

– Roger Deakin, Wildwood: A Journey through Trees

Born to Run Quotes

“When Auden wrote, ‘A culture is no better than its woods,’ he knew that, having carelessly lost more of their woods than any other country in Europe, the British take a correspondingly greater interest in what trees and woods they still have left.

Woods, like water, have been suppressed by motorways and the modern world, and have come to look like the subconscious of the landscape.

They have become the guardians of our dreams of greenwood liberty, of our wildwood, feral, childhood selves, of Richmal Crompton’s Just William and his outlaws.

They hold the merriness of Merry England, of yew longbows, of Robin Hood and his outlaw band. But they are also repositories of the ancient stories, of Icelandic myths of Ygdrasil the Tree of Life, Robert Graves’s ‘The Battle of the Trees’ and the myths of Sir James Frazer’s Golden Bough.

The enemies of the woods are always enemies of culture and humanity.”

– Roger Deakin, Wildwood: A Journey through Trees

Quotes about Trees

“At night I dream that you and I are two plants

that grew together, roots entwined,

and that you know the earth and the rain like my mouth,

since we are made of earth and rain.”

– Pablo Neruda, Regalo de un Poeta

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

– John Lubbock, The Use Of Life

trees on an island with reflection
Trees on the island ©Chris Lejarazu

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”

– Quotes about trees from Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”

– Khalil Gibran, Sand and Foam

“The term “panic” derives from Pan, the god of the woods. People lost deep in the forest report a terror, as though trees might conspire against them. Nature has no special regard for humanity. Panic is our brain’s way of reminding us we should be humble.”

– Thomm Quackenbush, Holidays with Bigfoot

“Her eye fell everywhere on lawns and plantations of the freshest green; and the trees, though not fully clothed, were in that delightful state when farther beauty is known to be at hand, and when, while much is actually given to the sight, more yet remains for the imagination.”

– Jane Austen

“To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world. To be poor and have trees, is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy.”

– Clarissa Pinkola Estés, The Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About That Which Can Never Die

“All our wisdom is stored in the trees.”

– Quotes about trees from Santosh Kalwar

“Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas. Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection, despite its ugliness. I take it for granted that to create a tree I condemn a seed to rot. If the first act of resistance comes too late it is doomed to defeat. But it is, nevertheless, the awakening of resistance. Life may grow from it as from a seed.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras

“When you’re outnumbered by trees your perspective shifts.”

– Jessica Marie Baumgartner, Walk Your Path: A Magical Awakening

“In a forest of a hundred thousand trees, no two leaves are alike. And no two journeys along the same path are alike.”

– Paulo Coelho, Aleph

“There are rich counsels in the trees.”

– Quotes about trees from Herbert P. Horne

“Trees, for example, carry the memory of rainfall. In their rings we read ancient weather—storms, sunlight, and temperatures, the growing seasons of centuries. A forest shares a history, which each tree remembers even after it has been felled.”

– Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

“Good timber does not grow with ease. The stronger the wind the stronger the trees.”

– Thomas S Monson

“To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature.”

– Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree

“If you really want to eat, keep climbing. The fruits are on the top of the tree. Stretch your hands and keep stretching them. Success is on the top, keep going.”

– Quotes about trees from Israelmore Ayivor

“We have nothing to fear and a great deal to learn from trees, that vigorours and pacific tribe which without stint produces strengthening essences for us, soothing balms, and in whose gracious company we spend so many cool, silent, and intimate hours.”

– Quotes about trees from Marcel Proust

“The very idea of “managing” a forest in the first place is oxymoronic, because a forest is an ecosystem that is by definition self-managing.”

– Bernd Heinrich, The Trees in My Forest

“Trees are as close to immortality as the rest of us ever come.”

– Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary

“I find it easy to admire in trees what depresses me in people.”

– Marge Piercy, The Moon Is Always Female: Poems

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone.

They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.

In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.

When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured.

And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts.

quotes about trees
Forest glade ©Liam Charmer

Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life.

It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours.

They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy.

Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

Herman Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

Trees and Cultures

NEWTON’S APPLE TREE | LINCOLNSHIRE, ENGLAND

The apple that fell from the tree in front of Sir Isaac Newton’s childhood home, Woolsthorpe Manor, did not, as myth suggests, smack the great man on the head. It landed, as apples do, on terra firma.

But as an account published in 1752 said, it prompted a reverie that in time crystallized into the law of gravity. A storm felled the original “gravity” tree around 1820, but it remained rooted and regrew.

BOAB TREE | AUSTRALIA

The squat, bulbous boab has provided water, food, medicine, shelter, even burial crypts for Aboriginals, some of whom regard the tree as sacred.

MONTEZUMA CYPRESS | SANTA MARÍA DEL TULE, OAXACA, MEXICO

A famous Montezuma cypress known as el Árbol del Tule had a trunk that was 119 feet in circumference and roughly 38 feet in diameter. It supports a crown the size of almost two tennis courts. In the 1990s the Mexican government rerouted the Pan-American Highway and approved a grant to dig a well for the tree to mitigate damage caused by car exhaust and a falling water table.

NEEM TREE | VARANASI, INDIA

In northern India the neem tree is known as the curer of all ailments and a manifestation of the Hindu goddess Shitala, a mother figure.

To neighborhood residents who worship the tree at the Nanghan Bir Baba Temple, in Varanasi, it is that and more. “My son was born premature … The doctor told us he would surely die,” one man told David Haberman, a professor of religion at Indiana University, who recorded the story. “But I prayed to this neem, and … he lived.” The tree is dressed in cloth and wears a face mask of the goddess to strengthen the connection between her and worshippers.

TANZLINDE | PEESTEN, GERMANY

In many parts of Europe, legend held that only the truth could be spoken under the linden tree, and so judicial hearings were held under its aegis. The Tanzlinde—or “dance linden”—in Peesten, Germany is a centerpiece of social life, where festivals and dances are held.

The original tree was planted in the late 16th century and died after World War II. It was replaced in 1951, and the dance platform, supported in part by the tree, was rebuilt in 2001.

THE CHILD-GIVING GINKGO | TOKYO, JAPAN

Tradition holds that this tree, which stands in the courtyard of the Zoshigaya Kishimojin Temple in Tokyo, brings fertility to worshippers.

Though the goddess Kishimojin is a guardian deity of children, her backstory paints a darker picture. She fed her own offspring—possibly thousands—by devouring the children of others.

To teach her a lesson, Buddha hid one of her children in an alms bowl. A distraught Kishimojin appealed to him, and he admonished her for the suffering she had caused. Suitably chastened, she vowed henceforth to protect all children.

MANGO TREE | NAUNDE, MOZAMBIQUE

A mango tree in Naunde, Mozambique, provides more than just shade from the sub-Saharan sun.

Like other so-called palaver trees, it’s a traditional setting for storytelling, ceremonies, and regulating village life. “A place to meet and talk, to seek compromise and settle disputes, to bridge differences and foster unity,” wrote Kofi Annan, the former secretary-general of the United Nations, from Ghana, in his memoir.

“If you have a problem and can’t find a solution, you meet again tomorrow and you keep talking.”

If you enjoyed these quotes about trees, try these quotes from Walden or wise words about hiking.