The Wu Xing are chiefly an ancient mnemonic device for systems with 5 stages; hence the preferred translation of "tree" over "wood".
In Chinese Taoist thought, Wood attributes are considered to be strength and flexibility, as with bamboo. It is also associated with qualities of warmth, generosity, co-operation and idealism. The Wood person will be expansive, outgoing and socially conscious. The wood element is one that seeks always to grow and expand. Wood heralds the beginning of life, springtime and buds, sensuality and fecundity. Wood needs moisture to thrive.
In Chinese Astrology, wood is included in the 10 heavenly stems (the five elements in their yin and yang forms), which combine with the 12 earthly branches (or Chinese signs of the zodiac), to form the 60 year cycle. Yang wood years end in 4 (e.g. 1974), while Yin years end in 5 (e.g. 1975). Wood governs the Chinese zodiac signs Tiger, Rabbit and Dragon. Some Western astrologers have argued for an association between wood and the element Ether, on the grounds that ether is associated with Jupiter in Vedic Astrology.
Cycle of Wu Xing
In the regenerative cycle of the Wu Xing, water engenders Wood, "as rain or dew makes plant life flourish"; Wood begets fire as "fire is generated by rubbing together two pieces of wood" and it must be fueled by burning wood.
In the conquest cycle, Wood overcomes earth by binding it together with the roots of trees and drawing sustenance from the soil; metal overcomes Wood, as the metal axe can topple the largest trees.