The first signs of spring are well underway. All the animals and plants are slowly waking up from the long winter months and trees are no exception. At this time of year, many trees have ‘buds’ at the end of all their branches. These hard, pointy structures come in all shapes and sizes and can be fascinating and inspiring to discover. But what is the bud?
Every autumn and winter, trees enter a state of dormancy. Some trees lose their leaves and effectively enter a form of hibernation. We call these trees deciduous. They, like the rest of the hibernating plants and animals, will not stir until the spring. However, to do this plants will need a source of energy to start their new growth. If they do not have this, they cannot grow new leaves to collect any more energy. The buds we see in spring are the answer to this problem.
If you look through the leaves of plants and trees in the summer months, you will see very small buds already forming. This is because the plant has access to so much sunlight, it is able to store some of it as energy for later in the year. It stores this energy inside the buds. When the end of winter comes, these buds will start to grow in size using the reserves collected in the summer.
The plant is beginning to use the stored energy to create new branches, leaves and flowers so that it can take advantage of the warmer sunshine as soon as possible.
So next time you’re walking through the forest, why not stop and look at the huge range of different types of tree bud. From burgundy reds to bright yellows, plants offer us one of the very first dashes of spring colour, yet they are often completely overlooked.
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Take care, and stay on the wild side.