Terminal Bud: Definition & Function

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jeremy Battista

Jeremy has a master of science degree in education.

Plant growth can be very complex when you get into all of the cycles that occur during it. Like humans, a lot of the plant grows at once. In this lesson, we will discuss the terminal bud and what occurs there.

The Terminal Bud

There are buds that occur throughout the plant. There are axillary buds, adventitious buds, pseudo terminal, and the list goes on. A bud itself is simply described as an undeveloped tip of the embryonic shoot, or the portion that grows up and holds the plant together. It can either develop immediately, or some buds will lay dormant. The type of bud we are going to focus on is the terminal bud.

Terminal typically means 'the end' of something, and we already stated that the bud is an undeveloped embryonic shoot. So, let's put them together, and we get a terminal bud, which is the end of the embryonic shoot that is undeveloped. In the following image you can see the entire shoot system. Notice the terminal bud as well as the axillary buds in the diagram.

It is at the end of the main stem of the plant that we find the terminal bud. You won't see this at the end of each leaf or each stem, as those are some of the different buds that we talked about. The terminal bud appears at the end of the main shoot of the plant only.

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  • 0:00 The Terminal Bud
  • 1:12 What Role Does it Play?
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What Role Does it Play?

The role of the terminal bud is fairly straightforward. It allows for the plant to grow taller, thereby allowing it to gain more resources in order to live. It is essential for the plant to grow and gain more height on surrounding plants. You can liken a terminal bud, in a way, to a human being. As children, we age and grow, not necessarily from the top of our heads, but we do grow taller and taller as we reach maturity. The terminal bud allows the plant to grow taller just as our legs and torsos allow us to grow taller.

Or if you'd like, you can imagine a terminal bud as a telescoping baton that many police carry. The end of the baton will extend out, reaching a maximum length, similar to the top of the plant growing and reaching a maximum height at some point.

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