Terminal bud/terminal leaf


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Springfield, Pa
Hey guys, I have a question about pinching back terminal buds. If the leaves have already burst, will removing the terminal leaf still have the same effect as if I were removing the bud in earlier development? Will it still cause one of the other leaves to produce the hormones to take lead? I'm working with a plant that has opposite leaves(Black Locust); so I'm just wondering what to expect being that I removed some of them on shoots that have yet to open and on already open shoots. I'm wondering if it could stop growth of the shoot all together, leading to other shoots forming.
Here are two short descriptions of the Black Locust from the same article at http://mdc.mo.gov/landwater-care/plant-management/nuisance-plant-management/black-locust. I'm a little confused now, after re-reading that
"the alternate branches lack a terminal bud." Is the shoot the compound leaves are on a new branch or just part of the group of leaves that will fall off later?
"Black locust has pinnately compound leaves that have an odd number of leaflets, with 1 leaflet at the tip. A pair of short, sharp spines occur where the leaf is attached to the strong, zigzag stem. The alternate branches lack a terminal bud. The fragrant, drooping, white, pea-like flowers each have a yellow blotch on the uppermost petal (standard), and occur in clusters that appear in May and June and develop into smooth fruit pods (legumes) up to 4 inches (10.2 cm) long, containing 4-8 seeds."

"This member of the legume family (Fabaceae) is distinguished by its pinnately compound leaves with up to 21 oval, smooth-edged leaflets, together with the pairs of spines where the leaf is attached to the stem."
You have run into one of the biggest problems with working with locust. Trees with compound leaves make difficult bonsai. The "individual" leaves are not individual.They share the same leaf stalk. That means you have to treat the group like an individual.

Compound leaves will also not reduce much, if at all. They remain large and ungainly on bonsai. To compensate you have to start with larger stock...

Pinching terminal buds after the leaves have begun growing is ineffective in producing backbudding. Once the leaves have begun to grow, you will have to wait until the leaves and leaf stems harden off, or become woody (lignify). Pruning lignified wood promotes a different set of hormonal events inthe plant, whic activates resting leaf buds on older wood.

So in other words, if a shoot is green, pruning it will NOT produce much, if any, backbudding. If the buds are actively growing, it's best to wait until the leaf stems become woody before pruning to produce backbudding.

Good luck with the tree. You'll need it...
Well, it's a good thing I plan on getting more shrubs soon. I'm going to pick something a little easier to work with for sure. I just read a little about leaves on Wikipedia. They have a pretty good chart showing different leaf types. I have a better understanding of my tree now after reading it. I'm going to have to try to locate how the branches form when I get home. I'm not giving up on the locust, but I can see how it's a tough tree to develop. Not being able to really wire it is a huge letdown, and knowing that the leaves probably won't reduce is another, but I'll still have fun growing it, even if I don't form it into a great bonsai.
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