What the heck are these?

I’ve been watching these things form in the Ponderosa Pines for a year.  What are they and how are they formed?  Please scroll down to the bottom of this post and “leave a reply”  or “comment” so that all residents can learn.



P1010574 P1010580 P1010587 P1010591

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7 Responses to What the heck are these?

  1. rick says:

    It’s called a “Witch’s Broom”… A Witch’s broom is a disease or deformity in a woody plant, typically a tree, where the natural structure of the plant is changed. A dense mass of shoots grows from a single point, with the resulting structure resembling a broom or a bird’s nest. Apparently of diseases, pests, and parasites can cause trees to form them. And they do get used as nests on occasion, by flying squirrels, among other critters….

    • Patti says:

      Thank you, Rick! They do look like brooms! I wondered if there were nests inside but there was no way I was going to put my hand in one!

  2. Mark McKenney says:

    There is a similar disease that occurs with Fir trees…. which is called Mistletoe . It forms clumps on Fir trees like these Witches Brooms and I am told are bad for the tree. I believe that if you look around you’ll see similar things on the Firs as well as the Ponderosa Pines.

    Mark McKenney

  3. Hélène Godin says:

    I have a friend whose husband is a retired forester. Yep, it is a ” mistletoe” tree.

  4. Patti says:

    I love these non-technical but descriptive names! Mistletoe fits as well! I took a walk and may see some forming in the firs but definitely not as far advanced as on the Pines. Should we be cutting these off? I hope not…they are pretty cool!

    Thanks Hélène & Mark!

  5. George Delisle says:

    Hi the brooms on the Douglas Fir are Douglas Fir dwarf mistletoe, however the brooms on the Ponderosa Pines are not mistletoe but abnormal growth cause by a needle cast . They do not harm the pine like the mistletoe does to the fir. There is a Lodgepolepine dwarf mistletoe but that is not what you are seeing in these brooms. Cheers George

    • Patti says:

      Thanks George! Well, I’ve learned a lot from everyone! Now, with the proper terminology, I Googled all the terms! I’m glad to know that the brooms are not harmful and I can continue to watch them grow. I’m still not sticking my hand in one!

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