Tree identification by terminal bud

If the tree is deciduous and has lost its leaves, you should be able to identify it by examining its buds.This is the most reliable way of identifying a deciduous tree in  winter. Buds are located at the end of stems (terminal buds) and along stems (lateral buds). Some trees have  terminal buds that are easy to see in winter and can be used to identify the tree

Tree identification by terminal bud – here are eight photos of distinctive terminal buds – horse chestnut, maples, ash, aspen and walnut. Click on any photo to enlarge it. 

To go back to the BUDS key click HERE









In Britain most tree growth occurs in spring and summer. During the growing season the tree produces buds ready for next years growth. These buds remain dormant during the winter and open in the following spring. Inside each bud are tiny preformed leaves, shoots or flowers. Terminal buds are formed at the end of the shoot. Lateral buds are formed at the junction of the leaf and shoot. Leaves and lateral buds are formed at particular points on the shoot called nodes. As the shoot grows in the summer, the terminal bud releases a hormone which prevents lateral buds forming. The concentration of this hormone is high at the tip but as the tip grows away it becomes low enough for lateral buds to form at a node. The tip then continues to grow until another node can grow and so on until growth ends for the year.