Pronunciation: AY-pih-kuhl MEH-ruh-stem
- Apical: at the top or apex
- Meristem: a zone of cell division in plants
The apical meristem is the growing tip located at the uppermost end of stems and roots in plants, made up of stem cells. It is responsible for producing new cells through mitosis that facilitate vertical elongation and the addition of lateral appendages like leaves.
In succulents like cacti and Aeonium, the apical meristem influences characteristic growth patterns and shapes. Destroying or pinching out the apical meristem can induce branching in some succulents by removing apical dominance over lateral buds. Care must be taken not to injure growing tips, as damage may inhibit new production or cause undesirable fasciation/cresting.
So in summary – the apical meristem is the crucial growth zone at plant tips that succulents and other plants rely on for directional expansion through continual cell division and differentiation.