Parts of a tea shoot or Physiology of a Tea Shoot

In any plant, there are two kinds of buds or shoots. Buds at the top of the branch or shoot is called the “Apical bud” and below that between every petiole and the stem, are alternative or side buds.

So long as the apical bud or the top most bud is there, all other minute alternative or side buds tend to inactive and remain silently without growing. This phenomenon is so called as the “Apical Dormancy”.

When a shoot is picked, the apical bud is removed and hence, the apical dormancy is beaked, allowing the bud immediately below the plucking point to get active and grow, which is termed as bud break. Most of the time, only one bud immediately below the plucking point begins to grow, some time that might be two or three.

First two scale leaves covering and protecting the minute buds are opened with the swelling of that minute shoots. Then the shoot becomes growing fast and the first leaf or the Fish Leaf (Mean Leaf) is unfurled. Fish leaf is different from the normal tea leaf by its small size, absence of the serration in leaf margin and blunt leaf tip. Rarely, there might be two such leaves opened. In such instances the below one is called the Janam leaf while the upper one is termed Fish leaf.

Then the normal leaves unfurl and grow rapidly. Once a new leaf is unfurled the weight of the shoot is doubled. But this rapid growth remains only about 2 – 3 leaves unfurled. After that, though the shoot is growing the weight gain is less and the same time, fibrous content and hardy parts become the main constituent of the weight. After producing approximately 5-6 leaves, the apical bud becomes inactive and stops growing. This plant specific, genetically controlled phenomenon, having two alternative periods of active and dormant is technically termed as the “periodicity of growth” or “growth periodicity”.

Once become dormant, it will take approximately 3-4 months to get active and grow if remained un-plucked after which it get active & grow again. If the dormant shoot is plucked, it will begin to grow once the apical dormancy is removed and again produce a harvestable shoot around 40-50 days.

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