Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson

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What is CLADOPTOSIS?


We have all heard of a new year's resolution. Sometimes the resolution is related to an improvement in the area of health and wellness, sometimes it is a goal that we want to achieve, and sometimes it is something brand new - something that we have not done before. Well, we are going to try something new each week in the Buckeye Yard and Garden Line (BYGL).

Each week, a BYGL writer is going to choose a 'word of the week' and write a short alert about that word. Some weeks, the alert may include photos to illustrate, explain or describe the word, while other weeks the alert may be just text. Our goal is to share horticultural terms that may grow your knowledge and understanding of all-things plants. Here goes week number one! 

This week's word is CLADOPTOSIS. The term comes from the Greek wordclados, which refers to a branch, andptosis, that means falling. Some people pronounce the 'p', others say the word with the 'p' being silent. No matter how you say it, the meaning is the same, branches falling.

I actually learned this word last year, when a client called concerned about the cottonwood trees in their landscape and the small twigs that seemed to be 'raining down' below the tree's canopy. After visiting the site and observing the collection of twigs that had fallen across their landscape and driveway, I began doing a little research. I was quite happy to find a FactSheet from Colorado State University, and several other articles written about what I had just observed out in the field. 

The more I read about cladoptosis, the more if fit what I was seeing. The description of the end of the fallen branches resembling a ball and socket arrangement, perfectly described what I was seeing. 

Researchers are unclear why cladoptosis occurs. Some believe that it is a result of stress on the tree or trees. Many have observed it happening in the summer, when conditions are dry. It can reoccur on the same tree, or it can be a 'one and done' - observed once, but not again. 

While there is more to learn and discover about cladoptosis, you can futher explore this phenomenon by reading the FactSheet, Small Branch Drop in Cottonwood Trees at: https://planttalk.colostate.edu/topics/trees-shrubs-vines/1768-small-branch-drop-cottonwood-trees/ 

We hope you enjoy this new weekly feature in BYGL. If you have suggestions for a future 'word of the week,' please let us know. 


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