Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) buds
Getting to know the parts of a twig
Terminal Bud: The bud that forms at the end of the twig, after a full year of growth.
Lateral Buds: The other buds along the length of the twig.
Pseudo-terminal Bud: A lateral bud at the end of a twig where the branch has broken or died. It can be distinguished from a terminal bud by the presence of a leaf scar (see below).
Bud Scales: Pseudo-leaves that protect the vascular tissue inside the bud.
Lenticels: Dot-like pores that allow for gas exchange. Depending on the plant, these may or may not be visible.
Leaf Scar: A structure below the bud where the previous year’s leaf was attached.
Bundle Scar: Markings inside the leaf scar from where the veins of the previous leaf were connected to the twig.
Ring Scar: The scar from the previous year’s terminal bud.
Node: The location on the stem where buds and leaves attach.
Internode: The space between two nodes.
Pith: The soft tissue in the center of the twig.
Opposite: Pairs of buds or leaves occur at each node
Alternate: Each node has only one bud or leaf. Plants can also have sub-alternate branching when there is an uneven spacing between nodes (see Hardhack below).
Keep an Eye out for These Natives!
Opposite Branching Species
- Multiple terminal buds with the largest in the middle
- “V” shaped leaf scar
- Mature trees are typically covered in moss
- Very large buds, which are bright pink and green in the spring
- Raised lenticels give bark a warty appearance
- Spongy pith
- Can grow to 20 feet tall at maturity
- Brittle whispy branches
- Tiny, opposite buds that are greyish/white in the winter
- White berries persist through winter and eventually turn black before falling off
- Light colored, shaggy bark
- Paired fruits are sometimes present through mid-winter
- Can be confused with ninebark, but ninebark has alternate branching
- New branching is square
Alternate Branching Species
- Twigs have small white hairs and appear fuzzy if you look closely
- 2-toned pinkish buds
- Prominent zig-zag pattern along the twig, bending at the nodes
- Young shoots have angled edges
- Tawny bark color
- Large, white, visible lenticels
- Sticky buds
- Spear-shaped lateral buds
- Grows in thickets
- Buds are very small with white hairs
- Subalternate buds
- Persistent flower heads
- Loose branching growth habit
- Bud scales are shingled and green-purple. Sometimes described as “artichoke-like”
- Light-colored, visible lenticels
- First to lose leaves in winter, first to leaf out in spring
- Striped, shaggy bark
- Twigs have edges that you can feel if you roll in your hand
- Branches are “whip” shaped
- Buds are appressed (pressed at side of twig)
- Bark is smooth and often covered with white splotchy lichen
- Buds are bright red
- Persistent cones called strobiles (female)
- Non-persistent catkins (male)
- Can grow up to 120 feet at maturity
Stewardship Associate, Forterra
Christine is originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and she is very excited to be joining Forterra. In 2017, she graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Resource Management from Penn State University. Following graduation, she worked as an AmeriCorps member with the Borough of State College leading volunteers to remove invasive species in local parks and helping to green the city’s stormwater management by designing and implementing several new rain gardens. She has a passion for native plants and creating ecologically functional urban green spaces. Christine is super excited to learn about all the new plants that surround her here in the Pacific Northwest! In her free time, Christine enjoys hiking, cooking and listening to podcasts.