The Q&A Archives: Walking Stick Trees

Question: I purchased a walkingstick tree this past summer. I have not found any information on them in any books. Only part of my tree had green leaves on the main trunk. Is that how they grow, or are the branches dead? Should I leave the leafless part alone? Should I prune it? It is in full sun, well draining soil. The tree is about 2ft. high. Should the new offshoots be trained to grow a certin way?

Answer: I assume you are talking about Harry Lauder's Walking Stick or Corylus avellana "Contorta"; this is a form of European Filbert and grows to about 8 or 10 feet or so with naturally wildly twisted and bent branches. It is usually a grafted plant and so any suckers coming from the ground should be removed promptly. other than that it is usually allowed to grow its own way for the most part. I am a little bit worried about your description of the leaf pattern. You should see new growth this spring along the branches and branch tips. If branches are in fact dead (green showing under the bark and no signs of growth by late spring) they should be removed. Begin checking at the tips and work your way along each branch until you reach live wood.

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