Friday, 9 April 2010

The apple tree mystery

I am not an expert gardener - but I know many who read my blog are. So, here is a little gardening puzzle that I have been wondering about for a few weeks.

Back in March, a druid friend (who by the way runs excellent workshops) posted on her blog that the apple tree in her garden was starting to bud new leaves. Eager to see if my tree was also returning to life after the winter, I grabbed my camera and rushed out into my garden.

My first feeling was disappointment as I was greeted with the sight in the picture at the top of this page - bare skeletal branches against the sky. But, walking around the tree, I encountered the thing that puzzled me.

One side of my tree has a long-dead branch, which is hollow. Sprouting out of that hollow was new growth with lots of small but reasonably well-developed leaves. What was it?

Was it the apple tree sending out new shoots from a seemingly dead branch - and gaining leaves much earlier than the rest of the tree? Or had a seed from another tree somehow taken root in the hollow apple branch and grown there?

You can see it in the picture right.

I do have an elderberry bush growing close by, and that was in leaf at the same time, but the leaves looked a little different so I don't think that can have been the cause. I also suppose it is possible that an apple seed from the main tree fell into the hollow and grew there. After all, apple seeds when planted often grow into quite different types of apple tree than the parent.

However, I suspect my best hope for solving this little mystery is for one of my knowledgeable readers to explain what is going on. If you have any ideas - please leave a comment.

On a final note, I was very pleased to notice today that the main branches of my apple tree now have little leaf buds (you can see a bud in the picture left). It might be a few weeks later than my friend's tree, but soon my apple tree will in full leaf and shown that it has survived the winter - and being pruned!

For details of Hilde's workshops, follow this link:


Andrew said...

from the look of that hollow, there is no way the tree is going to be sprouting from there again. The mystery leaves are either from some random seed which found it's way into the hollow in your tree (this happens often, when hollows like those fill up with decomposing bits of wood and leaf, making a nice fertile home for any stray seeds), or it's some sort of parasite or epiphyte (a plant which grows on other plants like trees, for support). Can't really say what it might be without a closer shot of the leaves. It might be best to remove it (in case it is a parasite), although there is a massive old hollow oak tree on my block with a fully mature wild fig tree growing in its hollow truck, and both trees look happy, and quite striking!

Badwitch said...

Andrew, thanks for that. The oak and fig trees sound fascinating.

Maisie said...

Although I don't want to get your hopes up, mistletoe is a parasite that grows on apple trees!

Badwitch said...

It isn't mistletoe - I'd definitely recognise that.