Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Puzzle Tree

Here's a curiosity. In an ordinary front garden near where I live, there is - and has been for at least ten years - a four-species tree. The mother tree, as it were, is a Locust or false acacia, but, at heights of from 8ft to 10ft of the ground, its trunk is growing Elder ( a rather weak growth, no more than a couple of feet, but still leafy and hanging on), Oak (a robust growth, projecting over 6ft from the trunk) and, higher up, a flourishing bush of Holly, about 4ft high. I can only assume that some experimentally minded gardener decided to poke an elder berry, an acorn and a holly berry into clefts in the locust's fissured bark and see what happened. The chances of any - let alone all three - taking must be very slim. But there they are, year after year. Are they living parasitically, or have their roots managed to reach ground? How long can all three last, and what will be the end of it? So far, the locust seems perfectly happy with the arrangement and continues to come into leaf and flower prolifically every year. Has anyone out there anything similar to report?

7 comments:

  1. Overall, Nige, there is not much difference between a cleft in a rock and a tree. If one thinks of the Bonzai, recovered from the cliff faces in the mountains, at least there is some food under the bark of the Robinia. It is perhaps the only tree that would allow, all during the year, light and water directly onto the trunk.

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  2. To my knowledge, this type of "splicing" (wrong term) goes back well into the nineteenth century - or to the Romans, for all I know.

    My grandad used to do it. He had apples and pears grown from the same tree...

    D.

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  3. Ah, yes, out near 3-Mile Island nuclear plant, we have quite a few trees like this. Some also have pig parts growing off them, and occasionally one sees landfish wriggling out from their roots. Don't think I'd eat any of their fruit if I were you, though.

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  4. Tumby WoodsideMay 11, 2008 11:20 pm

    My grandfather often budded more than one rose onto a rootstock.

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  5. It still surprises me that three totally unrelated trees should take so well to living in close proximity on another species. However, I did notice today that the locust is dying back a bit, so it might not be doing the host much good.

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  6. Nige, that tree has the nasty habit of dropping boughs and with little or no reason to do so. There is an African tree which does similar during the dry. But that Robinia is just nasty with it, looks good though.

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  7. Yes I know - my tree surgeon friend doesn't have a good word to say for the Locust. But a beautiful tree, esp when in blossom.

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