Epicormic is a term used to decsribe the growth of a new shoot from an ‘adventitious’ or dormant bud in the stem or branch. In many trees this is simply a growth habit; for instance Lime (Tilia spp.) trees commonly seen lining city streets create prolific epicormic. Many other tree species will create shoots in response to a recent wound. This can be seen clearly near recent cuts on Willow (Salix spp.), especially when the cut is poorly placed.
Epicormic can be a cause for concern where it suddenly appears on a species on which it is unusual, and which has not recently been cut. This kind of epicormic, when properly identified and taken with other symptoms (for instance dieback in the crown) can be seen as an indicator of ill health that may require further investigation. Epicormic which shows very small leaves and poor vigour, which subsequently dies off, may be seen as an ailing tree’s final flourish. In other cases epicormic may simply become established as new branches on the stem. The age of these branches can thus be used to indicate when the tree has been stressed in the past.