Tree Forms Explained

Form refers to the shape of the tree, defined by the pruning that it has received. All our trees have received formative pruning pertinent to the species and form described below.

Please note the photos within the product tables (click on them to enlarge) can be used as a guideline, but as all plants are unique they will vary slightly.

Single Stem / Pruned and Shaped Trees

Classic shaped tree with a single stem that has had pruning to help create a beautiful, natural shape for the species. It is one of our most popular forms.

Top Grafted Trees

A tree that has been top grafted will have a height noted next to the form e.g. 'Top grafted 45cm' This number is the clear stem height, so the amount of bare stem before the branches start. Once a tree has been top grafted the clear stem will never grow any taller, only the head of branches will develop (usually in a lolly-pop or weeping shape depending on variety). Top grafted trees are ideal for smaller gardens or patios and very easy to maintain as the tree will not require any complicated pruning over the coming years.

Multi Stem Trees

A multi-stem tree is defined as having two or more stems arising from or near ground level, growing from one root system. Trees with decorative bark, such as white birch, are often grown this way to give maximum bark appreciation.  Customers should take care to ensure they are buying a proper multi-stem and not a "3 in a pot" type arrangement which is a much cheaper growth method (our are the real deal).

Standard Tree

A mature tree with an upright clear stem measuring from the soil level to the lowest branch of approximately 1.8m-2.0m in height which then supports a branched crown.  Depending on the species or cultivar, the crown may have a central leader with side branches or have a fully branched head.  Standards are available in different forms which all relate to their size (see Girth).  Note: although heights are given for these trees, it becomes less significant and should be used as a guide, with girth becoming more important.  These trees can all be managed by one strong person (with care because they are heavy).

The girth of a tree is the circumference of the stem measured at a height of 1m above soil level.  Across the whole industry (and indeed the world) it is only used to measure mature trees.

Standard: either 6-10cm or 8-10cm girth, approximately 2.5-3.0m in height.

Premium Standard: 10-12cm girth, approximately 3.0-3.5m in height.

Heavy Standard: 12-14cm girth, approximately 3.5-4.5m in height.

Extra Heavy Standard: 14-16cm girth approximately 4.0-6m in height.

Starter or Maiden Tree

A starter tree, also known as a maiden, is a tree that hasn't had any formal pruning and will be quite whip-like. This form is usually applied to 1 year old trees.

Feathered Tree

A feathered tree has branches from the bottom of the trunk all the way up. These branches can be removed if a clear stem is required.


On our website a bush means a plant with many stems low down, rather than one singular clear stem.


A plant that is a natural climber and will be delivered usually running up a bamboo cane, ready to position in the garden.

Left to right: Pruned & shaped tree, top grafted tree (grafted head shown in green) and bush form

Apple tree rootstock diagram