Adventitious Buds: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Jeremy Battista
How do plants grow their branches and leaves? What happens if the areas of growth become damaged? Does the plant just die? The answer is...adventitious buds!

How Do Plants Grow?

Like humans, plants generally grow up or out. Unlike humans, they can keep growing even when very old, and even regenerate when severely damaged!

The meristem refers to regions of a plant that makes undifferentiated cells, sort of like blank cells with no assigned job....yet. These cells, or meristematic tissue, are later activated for various uses, like being part of a leaf or stem or bark, helping the plant to grow.

Most of the growth from a plant comes from a specific meristem region called an apical meristem. This is the 'apex' or tip of the main 'shoot' or stem of the plant.

But what happens if the plant's apical meristem gets damaged, say from an animal or a frost? Surprisingly, the plant doesn't die, it has found a way to live on and make more of its kind. The plant's answer to this issue is adventitious buds.

What Are Adventitious Buds?

The word adventitious, when used in biology and specifically botany, means anything that grows where it normally would not. So adventitious buds grow out of different places than the apical meristem. Such places could include but are not limited to leaves, shoots (stems), or even whole new plants via adventitious growth from the roots.

A drawing of an adventitious bud forming near the roots.
Adventitious Bud

These buds can begin to grow at any particular point in the plant's life, and can facilitate growth if the apical meristem gets harmed for some reason. Even stumps of trees can grow an entirely new tree by utilizing adventitious budding.


Adventitious budding can form if a new circumstance changes something in the plant's situation. For example, think of the trunk of a tree that is shaded because of the tree next to it. If that neighboring tree falls, the first tree's trunk is exposed to sunlight. The tree may create adventitious buds from its trunk to take advantage of the new light source.

We can also see adventitious buds takeover where pruning has taken place or where a tree loses a limb. Buds in that area can activate and begin growing entirely new branches, thus helping to save the tree. Horticulturists use this trait to their own whim, coercing the tree to grow in certain ways by manipulating adventitious bud growth, such as in Bonsai trees.

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