Witches’ Brooms Lead to New Plant Introductions
The dwarf evergreen growing in your landscape may have started as a cluster of twiggy stems known as a witch’s broom.
The name witch’s broom is from German meaning a sense of bewitching and broom. The cluster of twigs resembled a broom and since the somewhat mysterious growths could not be explained they were associated with witchcraft.
You can find brooms in a variety of trees, shrubs and non-woody plants. The abnormal growths are thought to be the result of environmental stresses and those caused by insect and mite feeding, disease organisms or a genetic mutation.
Those resulting from a genetic mutation retain their unique growth habit and pass this along to many of their seedling offspring. These are often propagated and sold as valuable landscape plants like Little Gem and Bird’s Nest Norway Spruce.
A bit more information: The interest in dwarf plants started to increase once Victorian gardeners began climbing mountains in the mid 1800’s. They tried to capture the beauty by creating rock gardens in their own landscapes. Dwarf plants made the perfect addition to these smaller scale rocky spaces.