Symbolism Wiki

A broken branch of a rose craved on a tombstone.

A Broken tree, or a Broken branch, symbolises death, or more specifically a life cut short. This symbolism is usually used on Gravestones, to signify someone who died an untimely or premature death. Usually seen on a younger person's gravestone.[1] An alternate symbol is a Broken Flower Bud, or rose stem.


In the Disney film, The Lion King, after Mufasa dies from being killed in a stampede, his body lies next to a broken tree symbolizing a life cut short or death.

Since a tree represents life, a broken tree is a common symbol of death. But, on a stone in a Massachusetts cemetery is a carving of a fallen tree beside a standing tree. Near the fallen tree is an ax and looking out from under this tree is a face. By reading the accompanying epitaph it becomes clear that this picture is not symbolic but literal. The deceased died when the tree he was chopping fell on him.[2]

A broken palm tree is symbolic of the destruction or death of the Jewish nationalism. On a Roman coin, there was the image of a Jewish slave kneeling before a Roman soldier with a broken palm branch across the top of the coin. The implication is that their nationalistic goals were being destroyed.

Joel recorded the condition of the Garden trees in our day, the time of the END, "Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and the barley; for the harvest of the field is perished (field = world, Matthew 13:38). The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men," Joel 1:11-12.[3]

Broken column

The broken column is another variation to the broken tree symbol. The meaning of the Broken Column as explained by the ritual of the Master Freemason degree is that the column represents both the fall of Master Hiram Abif as well as the unfinished work of the Temple of Solomon. This interesting symbol has appeared in some fascinating places; for example, a Broken Column monument marks the gravesite in Lewis County Tennessee of Brother Meriwether Lewis (Lewis & Clark), and a similar monument marks the grave of Brother Prince Hall. In China, there is a “broken column-shaped” home which was built just prior to the French Revolution by the aristocrat François Nicolas Henri Racine de Monville[iv]. Today “The Broken Column” is frequently used in Masonic newsletters as the header for obituary notices and is a popular tomb monument for those whose life was deemed cut short. [4]

See also