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The Basics of Tree Pruning


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  • adventitious shoots limbs developing from places other than a meristem tip. Adventitious shoots often form around a wound on the tree.
  • angle of emergence the slope between a leading branch and a limb sprouting from it. Generally, a tight angle of emergence results in weakened structures.
  • anvil the flat blade on a set of clippers. In proper pruning technique, the anvil is positioned on the outboard side of the cut, away from the tree.
  • benign neglect management system a method of care which allows a tree to remain on its site with minimal interference from man.
  • branch collar the point at which a limb joins a leader or a lateral. The branch collar represents the tree’s first line of defense against decay, the arborist makes the final cut just outside the branch collar when removing limb.
  • callous hard formation of tissue covering a wound
  • cambium layer the narrow zone of tissue in a stem that produces new cells. The cambium layer also contains the vascular system, which transports water and nutrients throughout the plant
  • canopy the uppermost leaves and branches of a tree or group of trees
  • capillary action the ability of a substance to draw another substance into it. In plants, it is the ability to move liquid through the structure as a result of surface tension.
  • carbohydrates organic compounds in living tissues including sugars, starch, and cellulose. They fill numerous roles such as the transport and storage of energy and structural components.
  • catastrophic embolism a blockage of the vascular system that causes the plant to lose its ability to transport liquids. This is often caused when air enters the system through a wound.
  • cultivar a plant variety that has been produced by selective breeding
  • decomposition organisms living substances such as fungi, bacteria, and insects that break down plant matter
  • egregious shockingly bad, blatant
  • epicormic shoot limbs sprouting from a previously dormant bud
  • excise to cut out with surgical precision
    genetic map the growth pattern typical of the hereditary characteristics of a particular species
  • graft a shoot inserted into a slit of a growing plant from which it receives sap. Fruit trees are often formed by grafting a cultivar onto a hardier root stock
  • incision a surgical cut
  • lateral a shoot or a branch growing from the side of a stem
  • leader a shoot of a plant at the tip of a stem or main branch
  • meristem tips the growing ends of shoots and roots that contain the tissue that produces new cells in the plant. The meristem tips are the only places where a plant elongates in form.
  • morphology the outward appearance (physical form, shape, external structure, color, pattern) of an organism
  • mulch a layer of decaying organic matter such as leaves and bark, that enriches and insulates the soil
  • narrow crotching structure a shoot or branch with a tight angle of emergence from a stem, causing it to have a weak attachment.
  • osmosis the diffusion of liquid through a cell wall or membrane. Osmosis is the means by which water and nutrients move through a tree
  • parallel leads two shoots growing in the same direction competing for space in the canopy
  • pathogen a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease
  • photosynthate a sugar or other substance made by photosynthesis
  • photosynthesis the conversion of light energy into chemical energy by living organisms, particularly green plants. The raw materials are carbon dioxide and water, the energy source is sunlight, and the end products are oxygen and carbohydrates.
  • photosynthetic prime one of the forces moving fluids through the tree.
  • pollard a cut that removes the top of a stem, causing shoots to form around the base of the wound
  • resprout shoots that grow from the base of a wound
  • root crown the top layer of the mass formed by the roots of a plant and the soil surrounding them
  • root crown shoot an adventitious sprout emerging from the root system
  • root stock a plant, sometimes just a stump, which has an established, healthy root system, used for grafting a cutting or budding from another plant.
  • sap pressure osmotic force that moves the vital fluids through a plant
  • scaffold the trunk and branch structure of a tree
  • self pruning the process in which a tree sheds unproductive limbs without human interference
  • shade-out die back dead structures in the interior of the tree from which the tree has withdrawn energy since they are no longer exposed to sunlight
  • shear the sharp edged blade on a set of clippers. In good pruning technique, the shear is placed toward the tree when a cut is made
  • target pruning an approach to tree management based on the removal of structures that are interfering with the tree’s health or are no longer productive for the tree
  • transpiration the evaporation of water through the aerial part of the tree, especially the leaves. Transpiration enables the mass flow of mineral nutrients and water from the roots to the shoots
  • vascular system the circulatory system of a plant that conducts water, minerals, and nutrients

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