growing branch

i recently started to use blender and am not yet familiar with everything. I was wondering if it is possible to create an animation of something that looks like a growing root/branch type thing. i imagine it works through some kind of extrusion system and maybe a path? i’ve tried the extrusion along a path with a bezier circle and a path but it creates some kind of weird profile. lets say i want just a very simple curvy tube to grow organically like its coming out of the ground;how do i set the basics for that?

Perhaps you could create an armature, parent the branches to individual bones then scale and keyframe the bones to simulate the growth process?

Is there any tutorials on how to set armatures and bones? i’ve never done it before.

Extrude the branch to it’s final size and position. Use Shape Keys to collapse it to the ungrown position. Then either alter the Shape IPO’s to make them run backwards or add a Time IPO going from positive to negative to make it animate in reverse.