Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
The word branches is a metaphor used to describe something that stems from a main body, just as a branch stems from the body of a tree. The metaphor is widely used in all aspects of life and commonly understood across cultures.
In genealogy, branches draws on the larger metaphor of the family tree. The family tree represents a single family through generations of time. The branches are the children and families that stem from the tree. They are the descendants of a common ancestor. The roots of the tree are the ancestors, those who came before, those who gave life to the tree. As seen in the natural world, hundreds if not thousands of branches may stem from a single tree. The family tree metaphor us useful in understanding and visualizing complex family relationships.