LEAF BUDS AND FRUIT BUDS In winter bare twigs tell much about things past. They also tell us much about the future. I broke off the tip of a slippery elm branch that leans across the fence. Let us read the store it tells of last summer. and the promises it makes for next spring.
There were three side buds last spring. Something had broken off the end of the twig. Its dead stub is seen at a. But the three buds cast. their pro tecting scales, and grew into leafy shoots. The one farthest out made the best growth. It had the most room, and it got the most sunlight.
Its leaves nourished their buds \veil. There are six lusty ones for next year. The second bud grew into a. goodly shoot. It was very well situ ated, as its buds declare. The third shoot is shortest and weakest. It has been shaded by the first and by neighboring twigs on other branches.
It has had a poor chance; and now its end bud and two side buds are whipped off.
What is there of prophecy in this elm shoot? The lower buds are large and round; the upper ones slim and small. What means this difference`.' are three ways of finding out. If you can't, wait, cut the buds open with a sharp knife. or care fully take off the scales one by one and examine the inner parts with a hand lens. If you can wait a week or two. put the twig in a tumbler of water and set it in a \Vann ptheC. The scales will be east. and the secret of the buds will be out. A third way is to leave the twig where it grew and to watch the opening of the buds in spring. The clustered flowers of this elm are formed in summer, perfe•t but small. under thick wrappings of rusty bud scales. They are in the plump, lower buds. The leafy shoots are formed at the same time and each one generally has its full quota of leaves for the coming summer. It is a miniature twig, enclosed in a scaly covering. These are in the slim upper buds.
The elm twig exemplifies a fashion quite common among forest and orchard trees—the bearing of well developed fruit buds and leaf buds separately on wood of the previous slimmer. These trees are early-blooming. They have to do but to cast their bud scales in spring, and the leafy shoots and the blossoms are forced out by the food stored in the twigs for this purpose. To this class belong trees of very different families. — soft maples, poplars. willows, elms, apples, peaches, cherries. All are ready in winter to tell the thoughtful inquirer what the prospect is for fruit. We do not usually worry over the elms and maples.
If their buds are few or if they winter-kill it doesn't so MIA matter,—to us. But the apple and pear and peach emps are important. and the plums and the cherries are anxiously watched by the careful orchardist. He wants to know all through the winter what the fruit prospect is, and he keeps an eye on the buds from fall till spring.
How may we learn about these things? ft is not such a complicated problem. We learn by observation and experience. as we learn other things. The looks of the buds themselves and their location on the branch are our guides in determining which are leaf and which are fruit buds. li'rnit buds are almost. always larger, plumper, and fuzzier than leaf buds. They are generally borne along the sides of long twigs or on short side spurs.
Apple, pear, plum and cherry trees as a rule bear their plump fruit buds on short side spurs, below the long end twig of the season. Apple and pear fruit buds are usually solitary and terminal on the spurs. Plums and cherries are generally clustered near the end of the spur. which produces a terminal leafy shoot.
Peaches illustrate the other arrangement. There are no spurs. Fruit buds are borne in \ vinter singly or in twos or threes on last. summer's wood. If three buds are together the middle one is a leaf bud, and the two side ones are fruit buds. if two buds stand side by side, one is a fruit bud and the other a leaf bud. The other fruit laul has been crowded off. A single bud at a joint may be a leaf bud or a fruit bud. If near the end of the twig, it is likely to be a leaf bud. The flowers tend to be inure nitmerous and toward the base. There are no proper spurs 011 peach trees. The little stem by which the peach is joined to the branch bears fruit but once. Peach and apricot blossoms are shuple and single. They cast their scales, and a Hower opens. It is unattended hy any leaf. Unlike the peach, e the apricot may be borne on spurs as \Veil as on the sides of the terminal whip. It combines Apple and pear trees, as I said before, hear their fruit buds as a. rule singly on the ends of short twigs. called spurs. The buds borne d here are larger, rounder, and inure fuzzy than the leaf buds that are located on the sides of the twigs. The fruit hud contains a short stein that hears a cluster of leaves below a cluster ul blossoms. A cut through the lnid in winter shows all these parts in miniature.