Tree Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning
For those who have a strong connection to nature, tree tattoos would be a wonderful way of honoring that. These tats are becoming more common in the inking world.
They can be amazing pieces of art by themselves, or can be incorporated as part of a bigger picture.
We’ll learn about the meanings behind some specific trees, as well as going through some common designs and where to get them tattooed for the best effect.
The Meaning of Trees
Trees have been around much longer than we have, and so have gained a reputation of being strong, resilient, and resistant to storms of life.
There’s also an element of eternity, being evergreen, and life coming full circle in the growth, germination, and return to the earth.
Various trees have medicinal properties that link far back to shamans and druids. There is also some religious significance to certain species.
They’re also beautiful, making them a creative tattoo subject.
Going further back, the Druids and Celts revered the sturdy plants for their healing properties, link to the earth, and the way they housed other creatures.
Christians see the tree as a conflicting symbol. The Tree in the Garden of Eden is seen as a symbol of temptation and the original sin. They are also, however, what the cross was made of, so there’s a very special meaning surrounding the object that carried Jesus in his last moments.
A religious person may get a tattoo of the tree (including roots) that has the most significance to their faith, as a reminder to be rooted in your beliefs.
Perhaps because of their reputation as being strong, durable, and interconnected, the tree is also a symbol of family bonds.
A great idea for a family tribute tattoo would be to get a widespread conifer complete with roots and branches with the names of those you love scattered throughout the branches.
This would be a great idea for a very colorful design, too.
Tree of Life
This has become a well-known image. It’s a large, bountiful tree often showing both roots and branches, in a circular pattern.
Get one of these images tattooed if you want to represent the link between humanity and nature, the eternal nature of life, or the oneness of all souls.
It’s often found in black, to present a more striking image, but if you want something more nature-related, you can add in some green leaves or colored flowers, or a creature to further emphasize life. Birds are great additions.
Of course, you’re welcome to do a full-color design if you want something vibrant.
In contrast to the Tree of Life above, we have the dead tree.
The bare branches of a dead conifer can make for an amazing silhouette. Get one of these to show resilience and the unusual beauty that can be found even after death or completion.
Dead tree tats are usually done in a darker, gloomier color and a minimalist style.
An unusual idea is to get a plant tattoo that has one half dead and bare, and the other blooming and colorful. This would represent new life and a new beginning, and the contrast between the two.
Linked To Nationality
Some nationalities are connected to the trees of their birthplace because they are a representation of their life and land.
The Lebanese flag, for example, has the image of a cedar tree on it. It’s the national emblem of the country, and a Lebanese national may feel like it’s a great way to honor their homeland by getting a tattoo of their cedar.
Other flags, such as Canada, sport something related. The maple leaf is a classic Canadian symbol. Cyprus’s flag includes olive branches, which is a well-known symbol for peace.
These tattoo designs can be extremely varied and creative. Here are some popular tree tattoo designs for inspiration:
A tree by itself can make a bold statement.
For something artsy and intricate, get a tree with plenty of detail in the trunk and leaves. If you’re keen on something more simple, a silhouette can be striking.
With Roots or Branches
Roots reach into the ground and keep the trunk stable and strong. They’re an important part of the plant, so you can incorporate them into your artwork if you want to bring across the theme of resilience, strength, and being rooted to something or someone.
Branches symbolize the connection to the universe and to a higher being. In family tree tattoos, they make the connection between family members.
The inclusion of both roots and branches in a tattoo design implies the connectedness of all things.
With Animals or Birds
Nature is all connected and trees are like living houses for other creatures. Another living creature could be a wonderful addition to your tat. What you choose is up to you – add a bird to represent freedom, or a wild cat crouching in the branches to show your hidden wild nature.
Tree tattoos can look amazing in both a single color or a variety. The color you choose will depend on the style and mood you wish to convey with your art.
Darker colors like black and gray can be used to create more ominous designs. Lighter, brighter options (any color of the rainbow) work well for a more joyful, positive feeling.
Solid black is fantastic for dead branch tattoos. It makes for a striking silhouette, although it can be shaded delicately to add some texture.
Brown is a more unusual color for a tattoo, but if you’re looking for something true to nature, you could opt for this. Realistic-style tattoos would look great in a brown hue to show off the detail of the trunk and branches.
The color green symbolizes nature, life, and healing. If your tat is linked to any of those, you could incorporate some green into it.
This could be in the form of leaves or simply the branches.
There’s no need to stick to realistic colors for your body art. You can incorporate any kind of symbolism that you wish.
For example, if you want your tattoo to be symbolic of new life after dealing with illness, you can have it done in green and whatever color the Awareness ribbon is for that particular illness.
You could also add elements such as colorful flowers, for something beautiful and life-affirming.
Common Body Placement
Certain parts of the body make amazing canvasses for tree tattoos, although this can be a personal thing and depends on your own thoughts and ideas.
For large, detailed tattoos, the back will always be the best canvas.
The shape of the shoulders is perfect for branches, leaves, and flowers in abundance. The trunk can be spread across the lower back, more than enough space to create a vast artwork.
It’s also great if your tree is part of a bigger picture.
You can have smaller tats done on the back too. A small silhouette on the shoulder blade or small of the back can be just as effective.
Chest and Ribs
Tree images are seen less often on the chest, perhaps due to their shape. They’re more commonly done on the ribs, which is another fairly large area that would fit a tall plant very well.
Arm or Hand
Forearms are long areas that also fit a tall, strong conifer quite nicely. Little ones can fit anywhere from the upper shoulder to the wrist.
Calves are a great space for tree of life tattoos, due to their circular shape.
If you want a big tattoo to represent strength and being rooted in something, getting the roots on the foot and the trunk and branches rising up the leg can send a powerful message of this.
Smaller tats can fit just about anywhere, and you can get creative depending on what you want them to mean.
Get a leaf or little plant over your heart to further cement that relationship between humankind (yourself) and nature. Mothers may choose to get a nature-related image on their abdomen to symbolize new life.
Discreet, small trees on the foot or ankle are wonderful reminders to stand firm and be strong.