Bill Reed and his wife noticed this strange offshoot growing out of a shrub in their front yard. It appeared to be a white spruce, which is a different species from the shrub. Reed logged onto the internet to conduct some research regarding this phenomenon.
He learned this “witches broom” is caused by a genetic mutation within a single bud that then grows into a shoot with a genetic makeup and growth form different from the rest of the shrub. Such genetic brooms are much less common than disease-induced brooms and are more likely to succeed.
“So what gives with this shrub?” he wrote. “There it was living its life as intended by its horticulturist creator, who capitalized on an odd genetic fluke to create this unusual, slow-growing shrub. Then along came this new odd offshoot of growth that looks nothing like the shrub. It is not stunted and looks more like a regular white spruce. It is truly a fluke in nature and will eventually take over the shrub and grow a white spruce.”