Bud scar may sound like a great punk band name, but knowing how to recognize this tiny bit of plant anatomy can come in handy.
At the tip of most twigs is an area of meristem tissue. This plant tissue can turn into several different types of plant cells. When the tissue grows upward, to continue the trunk of a tree, or a branch stem, it is called apical meristem, or a terminal bud. In this sense, terminal does not mean lying on its death bed. Rather, it refers to the bud at the end of the branch.
As these terminal buds burst forth with new growth, the protective scale normally falls away, leaving a bud scar. Bud scars look like rings around stems and branches of trees and other woody plants. Bud scars are from the terminal bud on a stem. These marks are different from leaf scars. Leaf scars occur at the point of attachment for a leaf, after the leaf has fallen off. Just above a leaf scar, there is usually a lateral bud that can grow into a twig or flower.
Ultimately, the growth of the tree or branch will grow over these scars, but that can take a long time. Until then, you can use the number of bud scars to determine the age of a branch, since each terminal bud indicates one year’s growth.
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