Virtual Museum of Canada
Jardin botanique de Montréal 
Centre for Forest Research

Like father, like son

Even though it's growing from a root, like the pneumatophores, this isn't a root. These stems, genetic copies of the original tree, are called suckers. When a tree produces suckers, it reproduces by means of cloning – a type of vegetative propagation (Asexual multiplication for plants.). What advantage does this type of offshoot have over the usual seeds? It can grow in places where a seed from the same tree wouldn't be able to germinate successfully.

In some circumstances, suckers grow very quickly and opportunistically. For instance, when part of a forest has been partially cleared, the extra light warms the soil and aspens produce many suckers. The suckers are able to take advantage of the plentiful light more quickly than the other trees that rely on seedlings.

Photo of an American beech (Fagus grandifolia) surrounded by many suckers
Fagus grandifolia
© Peter Del Tredici, Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University