Trees, shrubs should soon bust into bloom

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - MICHAEL ALLEN

AT this time of year nearly ev­ery­one is ea­gerly wait­ing for the leaves and flow­ers to ap­pear. You might not re­al­ize this fact, but trees and shrubs pre­pared for this spring last sum­mer. Even now you can see the buds on the twigs. If they are firm and ap­pear healthy they will cer­tainly be open­ing up soon. The process is slightly dif­fer­ent for conif­er­ous evergreens than it is for de­cid­u­ous trees and woody shrubs. I will only dis­cuss the de­cid­u­ous, or leaf-drop­ping plants, in this ar­ti­cle. Last sum­mer all woody plants de­vel­oped a very small bud un­der­neath the base of the leaf stalk, or the peti­ole, where it at­taches to the twig. Most peo­ple do not see the de­vel­op­ing bud be­cause it tends to be hid­den by the leaf stalk base. Once the leaf falls from the tree or shrub the pres­ence of the bud is very ob­vi­ous. At this time of the year the roots begin to ab­sorb mois­ture and nu­tri­ents in the soil which is di­rected to the cam­bial re­gion of cells just in­side the outer bark of the twigs, branches and trunks. This is a very crit­i­cal part of the growth of leaves and twigs in the spring. This mois­ture and growth hor­mones, in con­junc­tion with warm­ing days, stim­u­late those cells to de­velop into early plant growth rings. The mois­ture and nu­tri­ents move from the soil and pro­duce the spe­cial­ized cell tis­sues at the tips of the roots (called meris­tems) which de­velop into early an­nual rings in a re­gion called the cam­bium. The cam­bium is one of na­ture’s amaz­ing mir­a­cles. The cam­bium ring cells clos­est to the bark pro­duce early bark tis­sues, and cells (called the phloem) which will even­tu­ally trans­port sug­ars and starches pro­duced by the green leaves and store them into spe­cial­ized stor­age cells through­out the tree or shrub. The cam­bium ring cells in the in­side rings (called the xylem) pro­duce the wood cells as the tree or shrub ma­tures through the sum­mer. All this hap­pens be­fore the leaves ap­pear on the tree or shrub. Not long af­ter the devel­op­ment of the first phloem and xylem cells, the buds on the twigs start to open. Within those buds are the very small com­pacted leaves. They even­tu­ally grow into green leaves. Through the process of pho­to­syn­the­sis, at­mo­spheric car­bon diox­ide and mois­ture in the pres­ence of sun­light pro­duces the plant’s en­ergy food (sug­ars and starches) in spe­cial­ized green-leaf cells. The im­por­tant byprod­uct of this process is the pro­duc­tion of at­mo­spheric oxy­gen. Michael Allen M.Sc.F., RPF (ret’d) is a con­sult­ing ur­ban forester, tree di­ag­nos­ti­cian and cer­ti­fied ar­borist. He owns Vibur­num Tree Ex­perts. He can be reached at 204-831-6503 or

204-223-770.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

When tree buds are firm and ap­pear healthy it’s a sign they will be open­ing soon.

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