This paper presents novel coding algorithms based on tree-structured segmentation, which achieve the correct asymp- totic rate-distortion (R-D) behavior for a simple class of signals, known as piecewise polynomials, by using an R-D based prune and join scheme. For the one-dimensional case, our scheme is based on binary-tree segmentation of the signal. This scheme approximates the signal segments using polynomial models and utilizes an R-D optimal bit allocation strategy among the different signal segments. The scheme further encodes similar neighbors jointly to achieve the correct exponentially decaying R-D be- havior (D(R) ~ C02^-c1 R), thus improving over classic wavelet schemes. We also prove that the computational complexity of the scheme is of 0(NlogN). We then show the extension of this scheme to the two-dimensional case using a quadtree. This quadtree-coding scheme also achieves an exponentially decaying R-D behavior, for the polygonal image model composed of a white polygon-shaped object against a uniform black background, with low computational cost of 0(NlogN). Again, the key is an R-D optimized prune and join strategy. Finally, we conclude with numerical results, which show that the proposed quadtree-coding scheme outperforms JPEG2000 by about 1 dB for real images, like cameraman, at low rates of around 0.15 bpp.