Jeremy has a master of science degree in education.
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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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.
Remember, the plant grows from the terminal bud which results in the growth of the plant body itself and not it's branches or leaves. The plant will essentially grow straight up via the terminal bud. Most of the time it will exhibit apical dominance, where the apex, or tip, of the plant will grow more than the rest of it. The plant will concentrate its resources on creating cells in the terminal bud as it is able to grow larger from that end, more than if it were to concentrate growing via the leaves. In the first picture you will see the typical terminal or apical bud growing. After it is cut however, in picture two, you see the axillary buds take over.
This does not mean however, that the plant ONLY grows from the terminal bud. If the plant were to have its terminal bud damaged by animals, disease, or by some other means, it can actually utilize its resources into the axillary bud. This is a bud that grows near where the main shoot and leaf shoot connect. It can grow new plants, with their very own terminal buds, off of the axillary bud.
Let's review the main points of the lesson:
- There are many buds that plants have, but the general terminology for a bud is just an undeveloped embryonic shoot of a plant.
- The terminal bud is the end of the embryonic shoot, still undeveloped.
- The apex is the tip of the shoot where you find the terminal bud.
- Plants with terminal buds will concentrate their resources on that bud to make it grow and allow the plant to get taller.
- If the terminal bud is damaged, the plant can shift resources to different buds, such as axillary buds, to grow new plants.
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Terminal Bud: Definition & Function
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