What is happening to this Evergreen? !?

Can anyone tell me what is happening to this Evergreen? It is 1 tree, but the trunk of the tree has an offspring branch at the top that appears to be a totally different species of Evergreen? Why? What?
q what is happening to this evergreen
q what is happening to this evergreen
  18 answers
  • Libbie Beaudet Mayhew Libbie Beaudet Mayhew on Jul 01, 2017
    Are you sure it isn't a separate tree growing up through the first? Trace it all the way back if you can. If it truly is a "branch" off the original tree, I would say it has been grafted there at an earlier time.

  • Sandy Helliker Sandy Helliker on Jul 01, 2017
    Most of the tree has been pruned to give it that uniform look. It is just responding to the pruning by putting out new growth. You can prune the new growth off to reshape it.

  • William William on Jul 01, 2017
    It's called "genetic reversion," and what's going on is that one branch of your dwarf evergreen is reverting back to the bigger, faster-growing habit of its "ancestor."

    This is fairly common in dwarf Alberta spruce, which is a type of native white spruce that was developed decades ago from mutated growth that had unusually small and narrow needles and a very slow, tight, conical growth habit.

    Mutated buds and branches can be removed from parent plants and grafted onto the roots or wood of other plants of the species to create a new plant with the mutated traits.

    In this case, it turned out well because home gardeners liked the idea of a small, compact evergreen for tight spaces that they didn't have to prune much.

    Dwarf Alberta spruce is now a very common landscape plant, even though most people don't realize it's also highly prone to spider mites, which cause browned-out sections of foliage and often eventually kill the plant.

    Dwarf Alberta spruce also isn't terribly "stable" when it comes to staying true to its mutated habit.

    Your different-looking branch isn't from a different species, but rather it's what this plant looked like before the original mutation.

    If you let the oddball branch go, it'll overtake the rest of the plant or at least keep growing faster than the rest. Some plants put out several reverted branches.

    Assuming you liked the plant better before this happened, correct the reversion by following the branch back to its attachment and cutting it off there.

    Keep doing this to any future growth that's trying to go back to the original size.

  • Wally seeley Wally seeley on Jul 01, 2017
    it's a throw back to the graft. The dwarf Alberta spruce was grafted to the stock of a Norway Spruce. And chances are that it's starting from bottom of the tree look at the base and cut it off. Otherwise you will hace a mess later on and won't be able to correct it. Good Luck Wally

  • Cyndi Cyndi on Jul 01, 2017
    I've never seen anything like that before! I automatically thought graft! If it is starting from bottom of tree, I agree with the previous post of cutting it off. Or try trimming it to match the rest? It really is a beauty!

  • Helen Dunbar Helen Dunbar on Jul 01, 2017
    my neighbor had one to do the same thing. It will eventually die out completely.
    the original tree was a Alberta Spruce which is a grafted tree. Sometimes the
    dominate tree (Canadian pine) reamerges sence being the strongest species
    and this is what happens. I have no idea how to keep this from happening but
    it is not a new happening.


  • 13526476 13526476 on Jul 01, 2017
    Did you trim the tree in a conical shape? If so, Sandy is probably right. The ends of the branches are not that clear to me in the photos, but from my view point, it looks like two trees, an arboravitae with spruce tree growth.

  • Thanks everyone for the comments....to answer a few questions. It is only 1 tree; that odd branch is coming off the main trunk of the tree right where you see it in the picture. It is attached right there at the top. I thought about cutting the branch off, but was afraid cutting it off would kill the tree or leave a big hole in that side?

  • Patricia Dunn Patricia Dunn on Jul 01, 2017
    looks like a graft of some sort wow

  • Charlene Charlene on Jul 01, 2017
    Cut it out, the hole will fill in within a season or two

  • Thee Thee on Jul 01, 2017
    Leave it its Cool

  • Castrang17 Castrang17 on Jul 01, 2017
    Wow! So unique! Leave it, it is green and healthy. Had to have been a graft gone wrong. You have something special. Decorate for the holidays.

  • Tony Engler Tony Engler on Jul 02, 2017
    Everybody has failed to ask you one question. WAS The TREE there before you moved in?? If it was there first, previous owners pulled a Frankenstein on you by grafting.
    The folks that owned our place, bastardized an apple tree with a graft of a cherry tree. This thing produces some of the county's absolute worst fruit.

     +  +  =  or

  • Jan Bartlett Jan Bartlett on Jul 02, 2017
    hello I have one in my yard doing the same thing. Except ours is perfectly balanced lol

  • Holly Vallera Holly Vallera on Jul 02, 2017
    if conditions were right, it could have been a second tree planted by wild critters.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Nov 03, 2021

    You have another tree growing up from the ground near this one. You need to cut out the spruce that is growing up and shooting out the side.

  • Sven fennec Sven fennec on Nov 03, 2021

    it gets big every year it stays green all year long

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Nov 30, 2021

    you need to prune it