Juvenility and Maturity

  • W. P. Hackett
Part of the Forestry Sciences book series (FOSC, volume 24-26)


In the development of all woody plants from seed there is a so-called juvenile phase lasting up to 30–40 years in certain forest trees, during which flowering does not occur and cannot be induced by the normal flower-initiating treatments or conditions. In time, however, the ability to flower is achieved and maintained under natural conditions; at this stage, the tree is considered to have attained the adult or sexually mature condition. The length of the juvenile period can be influenced by environmental as well as genetic factors (31). This transition from the juvenile to the mature phase has been referred to as phase change by Brink (11), ontogenetic aging by Fortanier and Jonkers (19), or meristem aging (cyclophysis) by Seeliger (67) and Oleson (51). Associated with this transition are progressive changes in morphological and developmental attributes including leaf cuticular characteristics (21); bark characteristics, (52); leaf shape and thickness, phyllotaxis, plastochron, thorniness, and shoot orientation (16, 64); branch number and branching pattern (39); tracheid width (52) and length (61); shoot growth vigor (25, 28, 72) and other physiological characteristics such as seasonal leaf retention and stem pigmentation (64); ability to form adventitious roots and buds (9, 12, 64); partitioning of photosynthates into main stem or branches (8); disease resistance (W. J. Libby, personal communication); and cold resistance (36). Changes in such characteristics during development vary from species to species. Most characteristics change gradually during the period preceding the mature phase, and usually no distinct concurrent change in any one characteristic is apparent at the time the ability to flower is attained.


Adventitious Root Shoot Apex Mature Phase Juvenile Period Hedera Helix 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1987

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