Tree identification by buds

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. 

Tree identification by buds – terminal, opposite, alternate, alternate zig-zag, clustered or hairy. Examine the buds and stem closely, if possible, and then choose one of these options by clicking on the BUTTON below the option photo. This will take you to the next level of identification with more photos and text. Click on any photo to enlarge it. For alternative ways of identifying deciduous trees in winter click HERE.

Opposite buds of Horse Chestnut

Horse Chestnut, Maples, Ash, Aspen, Walnut

Opposite buds of Horse Chestnut

Horse Chestnut, Maples, Ash, Spindle, Elder, Box Elder, Dawn Redwood

Alternate spiral buds of Goat Willow

Willows, Poplars, Beech, Hornbeam, Bird Cherry, Alder, Walnut, Sweet Chestnut, Birch, Hazel

Alternate buds of Small-leaved Lime

Elms, Limes, Mulberries

Clustered buds of English Oak

Cherries, Oaks

Pear, Apple, Rowan, Star Magnolia, Field Maple

Terminal buds are formed at the end of the shoot. Lateral buds are formed at the junction of the leaf and shoot. Lateral buds are formed at particular points on the shoot called nodes. If there are 2 buds at each node they are said to be opposite. If there is one bud at each node the buds are said to be alternate. If the terminal bud dies or becomes a flower one of the lateral buds takes over the tip growth, resulting in growth which is slightly off centre and the shoot seems to zig-zag. Some trees have terminal and lateral buds grouped together and form a cluster and some have buds that are hairy.