Gymnosperm resprouting: a review

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Gymnosperms are generally regarded as poor resprouters, especially when compared to angiosperms and particularly following major disturbance. However, is it this clear-cut? This review investigates two main aspects of gymnosperm resprouting: (i) various papers have provided exceptions to the above generalization—how frequent are these exceptions and are there any tax-onomic trends?; and (ii) assuming gymnosperms are poor resprouters are there any anatomical or physiological reasons why this is the case? Five of six non-coniferous gymnosperm genera and 24 of 80 conifer genera had at least one species with a well-developed resprouting capability. This was a wider range than would be expected from the usual observation ‘gymnosperms are poor resprouters’. All conifer families had at least three resprouting genera, except the monospecific Sciadopityaceae. Apart from the aboveground stem, buds were also recorded arising from more specialised structures (e.g., lignotubers, tubers, burls and underground stems). In some larger genera it appeared that only a relatively small proportion of species were resprouters and often only when young. The poor resprouting performance of mature plants may stem from a high proportion of apparently ‘blank’ leaf axils. Axillary meristems have been recorded in a wide range of conifer species, but they often did not form an apical dome, leaf primordia or vascular connections. Buds or meristems that did form often abscised at an early stage. While this review has confirmed that conifers do not resprout to the same degree as angiosperms, it was found that a wide diversity of gymnosperm genera can recover vegetatively after substantial disturbance. Further structural studies are needed, especially of: (i) apparently blank leaf axils and the initial development of axillary meristems; (ii) specialised regeneration structures; and (iii) why high variability can occur in the resprouting capacity within species of a single genus and within genera of the same family.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2551
Number of pages24
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2021


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