Biomechanics in Botanical Trees

Julia Taylor-Hell


In this thesis, I describe a method for creating tree models with realistically curved branches, by considering the tree's development in the context of its environment. The final shape of the branches results from their growth under the influence of gravity and tropisms. Using the framework of L-systems, I extend Jirasek's biomechanical simulation of a plant axis to correctly represent entire trees. I present simulations of reaction wood and branch breakage due to excessive stress, as well as methods for controlling tree architecture. The result of all these factors is a multi-year biomechanical simulation of tree growth, which produces a realistic tree shape at every stage of its development. As a case study, my model is used to represent the mutant crooked poplar tree. I also investigate the dynamics problem of representing oscillatory motion of tree branches. I solve a two-dimensional problem using non-inertial systems to model a branched system of spring-linked segments. The remainder of the dynamics solution is left as future work.


Julia Taylor-Hell. Biomechanics in Botanical Trees. M.Sc. thesis, University of Calgary, September 2005.

Download PDF here (14 Mb)

Back to Publications