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Am J Bot. 2003 Feb;90(2):196-206. doi: 10.3732/ajb.90.2.196.

Shoot morphogenesis associated with flowering in Populus deltoides (Salicaceae).

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  • 1Department of Forestry, Mississippi State University, Box 9681, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762 USA;


Temporal and spatial formation and differentiation of axillary buds in developing shoots of mature eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) were investigated. Shoots sequentially initiate early vegetative, floral, and late vegetative buds. Associated with these buds is the formation of three distinct leaf types. In May of the first growing season, the first type begins forming in terminal buds and overwinters as relatively developed foliar structures. These leaves bear early vegetative buds in their axils. The second type forms late in the first growing season in terminal buds. These leaves form floral buds in their axils the second growing season. The floral bud meristems initiate scale leaves in April and begin forming floral meristems in the axils of the bracts in May. The floral meristems subsequently form floral organs by the end of the second growing season. The floral buds overwinter with floral organs, and anthesis occurs in the third growing season. The third type of leaf forms and develops entirely outside the terminal buds in the second growing season. These leaves bear the late vegetative buds in their axils. On the basis of these and other supporting data, we hypothesize a 3-yr flowering cycle as opposed to the traditional 2-yr cycle in eastern cottonwood.

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