Water sprout

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Vertical water sprout on Prunus
Water sprouts arising from epicormic buds within the trunk of Betula

Water sprouts or water shoots are shoots that arise from the trunk of a tree or from branches that are several years old, from latent buds.[1] The latent buds might be visible on the bark of the tree, or submerged under the bark as epicormic buds. They are sometimes called suckers, although that term is more correctly applied to shoots that arise from below ground,[1] from the roots, and a distance from the trunk.[2]

Vigorous upright water sprouts often develop in response to various factors. Such as physical damage, heavy pruning (or pruning in general), sub-par environmental conditions (i.e. drought, overhydration, improper soil conditions), and in response to pest and/or disease.[3]

The structure of water-sprout regrowth is not as strong as natural tree growth,[4] and the shoots are more subject to diseases and pests.[4] A system of principles of pruning considers this type of shoot undesirable on orchard trees because very little fruit is produced on them.[5]

Species Prone to Water Sprout Growth[edit]

As water sprout growth can form on many different genera, there are species that are genetically predisposed to water sprout growth. Some of the most affected genera are as follows. Crab Apple (Malus), Oak (Quercus), Maple (Acer), and Dogwood (Cornus).[6]

Water Sprouts for Grafting[edit]

Young vigorous water sprouts can be used in grafting.[7] Water sprouts are selected for this process due to their age and flexibility classifying them as a soft wood cutting ideal for the practice. This is especially prevalent in fruit tree production.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hartmann, H.T.; Kester, D.E. 1983. Plant propagation: Principles and practices. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs.
  2. ^ Beentje, H.; Williamson, J. (2010). The Kew Plant Glossary: an Illustrated Dictionary of Plant Terms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Kew Publishing.
  3. ^ Parkes, Dr Heidi (2023-09-22). "Water Sprout Removal – How To Prune Apple Tree Water Sprouts". Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  4. ^ a b C. A. Kaiser, M. L. Witt, J. R. Hartman, R. E. McNiel and W. C. Dunwell, 1988. Warning: Topping is hazardous to your tree's health. Journal of Arboriculture, 12(2):50–52
  5. ^ Hall-Beyer, B.; Richard, J. 1983. Ecological Fruit Production in the North. Published by the authors.
  6. ^ "Can water sprouts and suckers be prevented on trees?". Extension. 2021-02-26. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  7. ^ Michael Phillips 2005. The apple grower: a guide for the organic orchardist Chelsea Green Publishing in Google books
  8. ^ Lollar, Matt (2021-02-18). "Fruit Tree Grafting Tips and Scion Selection". Gardening in the Panhandle. Retrieved 2024-04-10.

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