Nodes And Internodes
Nodes are the points on a stem where the buds, leaves, and branching twigs originate. They are crucial spots on the plant where important healing, structural support, and biological processes take place.
In winter, the leaves of many plants will lack leaves, and some nodes will never grow stems, but still, in these cases, you can usually find buds at a node on living wood. Sometimes, however, the buds will have died and fallen off at that node. Sometimes buds are there but might be minuscule and easy to miss (such as in sourwood) or buried in the wood and invisible.
The base of a bud, leaf, twig, or branch is always attached to a node, so this is one easy way to find them.
Even without visible buds or leaves, you can tell where the node of a twig is by some signs that you will only see at a node:
- a scar in the wood where a leaf has fallen away
- A knob-like, slight fattening of the wood (think of a bamboo cane)
- In plants with hollow stems such as forsythia, smooth hydrangea, and bamboos, the nodes are solid
By contrast, internodes are the sections of stem between nodes. If the nodes are the crucial “organs” of the plant, the internodes are the blood vessels carrying water, hormones, and food from node to node.
Usually, internodes seem long and provide spacing between nodes of many inches. However, some plants are notable for how close together their leaves, and thus their nodes, always are. Dwarf conifers have closely-spaced nodes. Yews and boxwoods, with their very dense leaves, also always have short internodes. This fact is why they can be sheared or pruned into any shape, including the special form of topiaries.