Take tree and peel off the outer "skin" or bark and what you'll find is two kinds of wood. Closest to the edge there's a moist, light, living layer called sapwood packed with tubes called xylem that help a tree pipe water and nutrients up from its roots to its leaves; inside the sapwood there's a much darker, harder, part of the tree called the heartwood, which is dead, where the xylem tubes have blocked up with resins or gums and stopped working. Around the outer edge of the sapwood (and the trunk) is a thin active layer called the cambium where the tree is actually growing outward by a little bit each year, forming those famous annual rings that tell us how old a tree is. Slice horizontally through a tree, running the saw parallel to the ground (perpendicular to the trunk), and you'll see the annual rings (one new one added each year) making up the cross-section. Cut vertically through a tree trunk and you'll see lines inside running parallel to the trunk formed by the xylem tubes, forming the inner structure of the wood known as its grain. You'll also see occasional wonky ovals interrupting the grain called knots, which are the places where the branches grew out from the trunk of a tree. Knots can make wood look attractive, but they can also weaken its structure.