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Journal Article

Apical Dominance and Form in Woody Plants: A Reappraisal

Claud L. Brown, Robert G. McAlpine and Paul P. Kormanik
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 54, No. 2 (Feb., 1967), pp. 153-162
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2440793
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Apical Dominance and Form in Woody Plants: A Reappraisal
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Abstract

The form of woody plants is commonly interpreted in terms of apical dominance. Trees with the decurrent or deliquescent branching habit are said to have weak apical dominance, whereas excurrent branching is associated with strong apical dominance. A close examination of many decurrent species such as the oaks, hickories, and maples reveals that almost all of the lateral buds on the current year's twigs are completely inhibited. This complete inhibition of lateral buds by definition and common usage of the term is an expression of strong apical dominance. In trees possessing the excurrent branching habit, such as most conifers and some angiosperms, many of the lateral buds on the current year's twigs elongate to varying degrees. This is usually interpreted as an expression of weak apical dominance. The relationship between bud inhibition and form in woody perennials is much more complex than bud inhibition in herbaceous plants because of the time sequence in the formation and release of lateral buds. For example, it is only after a period of rest or dormancy in the decurrent forms that one or more of the uppermost lateral buds are released, and these may outgrow the currently elongating terminal shoot resulting in forking. Conversely, in the excurrent forms, it seems that the initial expression of weak apical dominance enables the terminal leader to outgrow the currently elongating lateral branches so that it exerts complete control over their subsequent growth and development in later years. An examination of the levels of diffusible auxin at different points along the twigs of excurrent and decurrent species indicates that the balance of growth factors at any given locus, and not the absolute quantity of auxin, exerts primary control over bud inhibition and shoot elongation.

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