Weird growth on landscape spruce

Discussion in 'Other Conifers' started by clevetromba, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. clevetromba

    clevetromba Shohin

    Messages:
    258
    Location:
    Cleveland Ohio USDA Zone 6a
    I drive by this tree in my neighborhood every day, and only recently noticed the strange growth on the top of it. Would this be considered a witches broom? I know the pic isn't great, but the growth is so rounded and compact and full of cones compared to the rest of the more typical spruce growth habit. 20171009_170114.jpg
     
    miker likes this.
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  3. Bavarian Raven

    Bavarian Raven Yamadori

    Messages:
    83
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Canada.
    Basically yes. It's a genetic mutation. I've seen it occurred in a few trees in the wild.
     
  4. TN_Jim

    TN_Jim Seedling

    Messages:
    21
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    Wow, thats crazy. Just read it can be caused too by a bacterial paracites (Phytoplasmas). Wacky stuff, that's a new one.
     
  5. GGB

    GGB Chumono

    Messages:
    834
    Location:
    Bethlehem, PA
    I drive past an eastern white pine sometime and the top of it is similar to your spruce. It's like a perfect sphere of foliage
     
  6. Zaratrusta

    Zaratrusta Seedling

    Messages:
    18
    I never seen/heard about something like this. Wow.....
     
  7. Giga

    Giga Masterpiece

    Messages:
    3,429
    Location:
    Virginia beach, VA
    yeah i bet at some point the apex was affected with something and then affected all the top growth from there on.
     
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  8. sdavis

    sdavis Mame

    Messages:
    109
    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Yes, this is a good example of a witch's broom.
    It can be caused by an infection (sometimes a virus) or by a genetic mutation.
    Mistletoe can also lead to a similar phenomenon.
    Many of the "dwarf" varieties of conifers found in nurseries started out as a broom and were collected and grafted onto a healthy under-stock.
    Of course the genetic mutations are the desirable ones. The infectious ones don't propagate well.
    If you start looking, brooms are not that uncommon in western conifers.
    See the American Conifer Society's website for more examples.
     
    Zaratrusta and ghues like this.
  9. miker

    miker Chumono

    Messages:
    516
    Location:
    Wyomissing, PA
    Yes, it looks like a giant apical witch's broom!

    Most of the interesting conifer cultivars/variants come from chance witch's broom discoveries in the wild.
     
  10. Velodog2

    Velodog2 Shohin

    Messages:
    447
    Location:
    Central Maryland
    This happens in reverse too, particularly on the ubiquitous dwarf Alberta spruce, where the mutation that presumably made the original witches broom reverts to normal growth on a tree making what seems a relatively huge, but is actually a normal sized branch. I have a Japanese maple 'Butterfly' in my yard this has happened with, although I'm not sure if that cultivar originated as a somatic mutation like this. I've allowed the reversion to grow since the form is similar to the original it's just the leaves that have lost their variegation, and have a half-n-half tree.
     
  11. M. Frary

    M. Frary Bonsai Godzilla

    Messages:
    11,143
    Location:
    Mio Michigan
    I can drive down the road and find these in lots of places here.
    I have 2 Scots pines that try to grow them. I cut them off.
     

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