Four Malus dwarfing rootstock clones showed a range of rooting success when propagated as layers. Root emergence was largely confined to a nodal position near lateral buds. Anatomical studies revealed nodal rooting to be closely associated with the parenchymatous bud and leaf gaps of the stem. The highest starch concentration was in these tissues and the outer ring of pith cells. Etiolation during layering increased stem starch and decreased the degree of sclerification of the cortex. Rooting success was negatively correlated with degree of sclerification. Etiolated stem cuttings rooted in 7 days under mist propagation, while non-etiolated cuttings failed to root, indicating that etiolation provided a stimulus to root initiation in the non-differentiated, starch-rich gap areas. Inter-relationships of stem etiolation and internal carbohydrate reserves were associated with the rooting process.