The Trees Survived!

By Erica Barry, Seth Berman Gardeners

Photo by Erica Barry
At times I am surprised to see those first leaf or flower buds beginning to bulge and reveal that these trees and shrubs survived winter. How did these magnificent creatures survive this cold winter with so much of their body waving in the freezing air? Whether you interpret it from the perspective of Darwin, an artist, a chemist, a botanist or a christian, the basic truth prevails. Something in this tree behaved differently as a means to survive through the winter.

However it knew, the wonder substance that tree has to thank is called abscisic acid (ABA) which brings the tree’s active metabolic cycle to a crawl every fall and winter as the available daylight wanes away. The presence of ABA (produced in the terminal buds at the end of each twig, incites the plant to develop scales to protect the dormant buds during the cold season. While we may be able to (with much attention to detail) observe this process on twigs, below ground, a symmetry of preparation for dormancy is happening throughout the root system. ABA also plays many more vital roles in plants lives year round.

Not only should we be thankful that the plant properly prepared for winter, but we must thank these cold temperatures for stimulating the synthesis of a hormone needed for subsequent growth.

Do we have these complex reactions to the seasons?


Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon, third edition 2010.
“Dormant But Not Forgotten” by Michael Tortorello, 2013

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Written by Seth Berman

Seth Berman

Seth Berman is a master gardener from Cambridge, Massachusetts

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