Pruning Terminology

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The reasons to prune trees and shrubs include: to keep the plant healthy, to remove any dead and dying branches or twigs, the restoration of overgrown plants, to maintain a natural shape, and to increase light and airflow through the plant. Begin by removing any dead and dying branches or twigs and any branches that cross or rub together. Always consider the natural shape of the plant.

Labeled tree with pruning terminology
Some terminology on an espaliered tree.

Arm-Short branches of the trunk from which shoots or canes develop, generally from wood that is two or more years old.
Axil- The angle formed by a branch or leaf and the part of the plant from which it arises.
Branch- A shoot that has grown for more than one season.
Bud- An unexpanded flower or vegetative shoot. Buds may develop into
flowers or into leaves and shoots. They may be terminal (at the top of a
shoot) or lateral (as in the axis of a leaf).
Candle- New terminal growth on a pine from which the needles will emerge.
Cane- A long healthy branch, usually referring to growth on brambles or vines.
Crotch- The angle between two branches or shoots near the point of their union.
Deshoot- Removal of young shoots from a tree during growing season to aid in training it to a desirable shape.
Disbud- Selective removal of flower buds so that the remaining buds become bigger.
Dormant- Resting, not growing.
Espalier-A tree or shrub that is trained to grow flat against a wall or trellis.
Fruiting wood- Shoots or branches carrying flower buds and having the potential for growing fruit.
Hanger- A drooping branch on a tree that does not normally have branches that grow downward. These should be removed.
Heading back- Cutting away a portion of the terminal growth of a branch or shoot, usually to control the size of the tree or shrub.
Internode-The distance from one node to another.
Latent bud- A bud that does not break within the season it is formed. These may develop into new growth if existing branches are broken or pruned.
Lateral- A branch or shoot arising from a side bud of another shoot or branch.
Lateral bud- A bud on the side, rather on the tip of a stem.
Leader- A developing trunk that is taller and stronger than any laterals.
Node-The area of the stem where leaves or buds can grow.
Pinch-Removing a growing shoot or bud by pinching it between the thumb and forefinger..
Scaffold- A branch arising from the trunk.
Scion- The cutting of one plant that is grafted to the rootstock of another.
Shoot- Vegetative growth produced from a bud generally during the current growth season.
Spur- A short thick growth producing flowers that may become fruit on apple, pear, and cherry trees.
Standard- A plant not normally grown as a tree that has been trained to a single trunk with a rounded head.
Sucker- A vigorous shoot that has grown from the root or lower portion of the trunk. Remove these ASAP.
Terminal bud- A bud at the end of a trunk or branch that will extend the growth of the plant.
Topiary- To shape or form by pruning into various ornamental shapes or the plants that have been shaped.
Trunk-The main woody stem of the tree.
Water sprout- A vigorous shoot rising from auxiliary buds on the trunk or older branches. May be caused by over pruning. Remove ASAP.

Despite good cultural practices, pests and diseases at times may appear. Chemical control should be used only after all other methods have failed.
For pesticide information or other questions please call toll free: 877-486-6271.
UConn Home and Garden Education Center, 2017