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Flower Development & Tree Morphology

Although flower tissue is derived from vegetative tissue, the location and type of vegetative tissue which develops into flowers, and ultimately fruits, varies among tree fruit and nut crop species grown in California. An understanding of the bearing habit, or location of buds which form flowers and fruit in individual crop species, is vital to optimizing pruning and training practices in an orchard.

Bearing Habit & Flower Formation

The bearing habit of a species can be described by the location and types of buds which develop into fruit. Flower buds are formed either laterally on woody tissue, terminally at shoot tips, or on spurs (Figure 15).

Relationship Between Bearing Habit,
Pruning & Training

Pruning enables growers to control growth form, distribution of resources within a tree, and fruit size. The extent to which a tree should be pruned, and the types of wood that should be cut, will be determined by the location of flower and fruit development in each species. For example, peach and nectarine flowers develop laterally on new wood produced in that season. As a result peach pruning practices should promote annual growth of new shoots which produce flower buds.

In contrast, cherry flowers are borne on wood at least two years old. Pruning practices of cherry should balance the need to preserve older wood for fruit production with other factors such as canopy light interception. See the Pruning & Training section for more details.

Figure 15 (right). Illustration of olive branch with flowers borne laterally in the axils of new leaves (a), a quince branch with a flower borne terminally at the tip of a shoot (b), and a walnut branch with male catkins borne laterally and female flowers borne terminally at the tip of the shoot (c) Image source: ClipArt Etc website, Univ. of South Florida.

Flower Anatomy & Pollination: Figure 15a
Flower Anatomy & Pollination: Figure 15b
Flower Anatomy & Pollination: Figure 15c