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Odd looking pine tree, one branch did not follow the rules?

  1. Aug 13, 2012 #1
    Walking the dog takes me past an odd (to me) looking pine tree. I live in south eastern Pennsylvania. With help of Google I think the tree in question is a White Pine, see

    http://www.oplin.org/tree/fact pages/pine_white/pine_white.html

    Also see the images below of the tree. I don't think I have ever see a tree like this one. It seems one of the branches did not "follow the rules" so to speak. One branch near the top is different from the other branches on the tree in at least two respects. While most of the branches grow outward this branch grew upward and into a large dense ball of sub-branches. It seems that genetic instruction for the one branch were not the same as the other branches?

    Any thoughts or suggestions welcome!

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2012 #2
    That's very interesting. Is is possible that the branch is a different species? Perhaps the tree was damaged years ago and a seed from a different species germinated inside the damaged section, then later began to feed off of the tree like a graft.
  4. Aug 14, 2012 #3
    It reminds me of mistletoe, just bigger and less distinct from the host tree in terms of leaf-shape. Which makes me think that the suggestion in the previous post may have some merit. :)
  5. Aug 14, 2012 #4


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  7. Aug 14, 2012 #6


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    Have you researched squirrel nests? They are tightly-woven leaf-lined balls of twigs that can distort the appearance of trees.
  8. Aug 14, 2012 #7
    The pictures I included above did not give any scale. From the photo below the "ball" of branches it is clearly the size of a car. I think AlephZero hit the nail on the head. Thanks to all! I will now be on the look out for another "witch's broom".

    Attached Files:

  9. Aug 17, 2012 #8
    I joined this forum with the hopes of providing an interesting answer to this quest. Unfortunately, I'm now not sure if my answer is correct.

    Apical dominance

    The "terminal bud" (ie, the top of the tree trunk) produces a hormone that suppresses the growth of the "lateral buds" (ie, the ends of the branches), which causes the trunk to grow vertically and the branches to grow horizontally. And, for example, it helps to produce the typical conifer shape.

    However, what happens when the terminal bud stops producing this hormone? For example, a lightning strike might damage or destroy it, as would an insect that ate this tender bud. When this happens, the lateral bud that can produce the most of this hormone becomes the new tip of the trunk, and its branch turns vertical and becomes the new trunk. I am unable to find a photo of this phenomenon, but this silhouette seems to show it about three-quarters up the trunk (it seems to shift to the right). This is what I thought the photos would show. The phenomenon is more obvious with conifers that have whorled branches.

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