Definition of Pruning Terms

Broad-leaved evergreen - an evergreen plant with broad leaves that are not needle-shaped.
Caliper - refers to the diameter of a tree. In nursery-landscape practice, caliper is measured 6 inches above the ground level up to and including 4-inch diameter size and 12 inches above the ground level for larger sizes.
Candle - refers to early spring growth of pine shoots before needle expansion.
Central leader - the main stem of the tree from which other branches develop. In most cases, it is the trunk.
Crotch - the angle developed between two connecting branches.
Deciduous - plants that normally have leaves only during the growing season and lose their leaves during the dormant season.
Dieback - the dying back of stems due to adverse weather conditions, insects, diseases or other causes.
Dormant - the period of the year when a plant is not growing.
Espalier - to train a plant on a wire or trellis against a wall or other support.
Lateral - a branch originating from the main trunk.
Multiple stemmed plants - plants with more than one stem form the base compared to plants with only a central leader.
Narrow-leaved evergreen - an evergreen plant with leaves that are needle-shaped.
Permanent branch - a branch that is part of the major growth habit of the tree, usually originating from the trunk.
Radial branch spacing - the distribution of branches around the trunk of a tree.
Scaffold branching - a permanent branch originating from the trunk and becoming a part of the major branching or framework of the tree.
Shearing - cutting back plants with hedge shears resulting in a very formal growth habit. Limit shearing to hedges, topiary or where a formal garden is to be maintained.
Sucker - a vigorous shoot originating from root or stem tissue below ground.
Temporary branch - a branch usually originating from the trunk that is removed by pruning after permanent branches have been selected.
Terminal - tip ends of branches.
Thinning - removal of connecting branches to point of origin or shortening the length of a branch by cutting to a lateral.
Training - to dictate the development and growth of a plant by physical means, such as pruning.
Vertical branch spacing - distribution of branches up and down the trunk of a tree.
Water sprout - vigorous shoot arising from the trunk or older branches.
Wound - area where the bark of a plant is cut or damaged.
Wound dressing - a specially formulated material often called pruning paint, which is applied to tree wounds.

This article was developed through the educational programs conducted by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. Zerle L. Carpenter, Director, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, the Texas A&M University System. The article was written by Douglas F. Welsh, Extension Horticulturist and Everett Janne, Extension Landscape Horticulturist.

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