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The Smallest Trees in the World | BeCause Tees

The Smallest Trees in the World

The tree is a majestic plant that can be found in many different environments. Whilst trees are known for their height, not all trees are huge! There are some small tree species out there. These small tree species may be short, but they have many interesting adaptations to help them survive in the harshest of environments. In this blog post, we'll explore the smallest trees in the world and find out how they survive, despite being so small. 

What's the Smallest Tree in the World?

Arguably, the dwarf willow (Salix herbacea) is the smallest tree in the world. This woody plant is usually only found in cold, arctic climates. The tree itself can reach a height of about one foot tall and it has tiny leaves that are less than an inch long. It also produces small flowers which help the tree reproduce. Despite the maximum height of about a foot, the dwarf willow can reach full maturity at a height of a couple of inches.

The dwarf willow's ability to survive despite its small size comes from adaptations which include broad leaves, short tree height, and low tree density. Despite the tree's small size, it has very strong roots which ensure that it can survive even in harsh conditions with lots of snow or ice through the harsh winter months. Being short in height allows the dwarf willow to withstand cold arctic winds, with broad leaves helping it to make the most of any sunshine. 

dwarf willow tree

However, the dwarf willow's status as a tree is debatable. Many arborists and botanists don't consider the dwarf willow to be a tree, as they believe the definition of a tree is having a trunk of at least three inches in diameter at least four and a half feet off the ground.  This would categorically disqualify the dwarf willow and would open up the podium to any number of other species.

The Smallest Trees in the World

Since there are no definitive statistics that are true across all samples of a tree species, it's more accurate to provide a shortlist (pun intended) of some of the shorter tree species around.

Crape Myrtle

The Crape Myrtle is a small deciduous tree that comes in a wide variety of colorful blooming flowers. It can grow up to twenty feet tall but some trees have reached full maturity as small as four to six feet.

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Viridis')

Another small tree species is the dwarf Japanese Maple which will reach heights of about three to eight feet.

Weeping Redbud

The weeping redbud grows up to six to eight feet tall. This beautiful tree has cascading branches full of pink and red flowers in the spring. 

Japanese Maple tree

Bonsai Trees

Some might consider Bonsai trees to be the smallest trees in the world, but there are several factors that would disqualify them in some of the most qualified eyes. 

Bonsai trees are usually created using a part of a tree species that is already small and then kept in the shape of a tree by use of pruning. However, many Bonsai tree owners would disagree with this assessment since their prized plants have reached full maturity which makes them real trees. However, Bonsai isn't a species of tree, and additionally, they aren't grown from seed - they're cuttings taken from already grown trees and pruned into shape over a long period of time in order to resemble miniaturized versions of the larger parent tree. That is why you can often find full-sized fruit growing on tiny Bonsai trees.

Despite their lack of qualifications to fit the most recognized definition of a tree, they are still universally referred to as "Bonsai trees" so it's worth including them in this list.

Bonsai tree


So there you have it, the topic of the smallest trees in the world is a highly debatable one. Whether the dwarf willow, bonsai tree, or another type of tree wins the title of smallest tree in the world will vary depending on who you ask. Celebrate all trees with our Tree Collections, and we'll plant trees on your behalf!

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