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The axillary bud is a bud that develops in the axil of a leaf of a plant (synonymous with lateral bud), more exactly it is actually still an embryonic shoot which lies dormantly at the junction of the stem and petiole of a plant. It arises exogenously from outer layer of cortex of the stem. Sometimes from axillary buds instead of branches (axillary shoot) also arise flowers, these buds are called floral buds.
As the apical meristem grows and forms leaves, it leaves behind a region of meristematic cells at the node between the stem and the leaf. These axillary buds are usually dormant, inhibited by auxin produced by the apical meristem, which is known as apical dominance. If the apical meristem was removed, or has grown a sufficient distance away from an axillary bud, the axillary bud may become activated (or more appropriately freed from hormone inhibition). Like the apical meristem, axillary buds can develop into a stem or flower.
Certain plant diseases - notably phytoplasmas - can cause the proliferation of axillary buds, and cause plants to become bushy in appearance.The shoots of most vascular plants branch according to a consistent plan, with each new axis arising in the angle between a leaf and a stem—that is, in a leaf axil. In some plants, buds may also form from the older parts of shoot or root remote from the main apices; these buds, termed adventitious, do not conform to the general plan.
Axillary buds can be used to differentiate if the plant is single-leafed or multi-leafed. Simply count the number of leaves after an axillary bud. If there is only one leaf, then the plant is considered single-leafed, vice versa.
Some example of axillary buds are the eyes of the potato, etc. These help in the propagation of new plants.
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