The Q&A Archives: Henry Lauder Walking Stick Tree branches wont twist and curl

Question: I bought this tree about 6 years ago and is planted on my lawn with full sun. This year I have expanded more of the area that the grass grows below it and added fetilizer made from human waste material. I was told this is a very slow growing tree but mine is growinf like crazy. The only branches that have twisted are the ones that showed when I bought the tree. Plus the japaneese bettles love to eat the leaves. So I am constantly spraying with a comercial japaneese bettle spray. The branches grow straight up not out and do not twist. Also the original twisted branches are at the same hight from the grown as when I planted it. So can not see the tree trunk. Is that normasl? I love this tree and my husband bought it the year we wed and figures it will twist and curl as we do in out later years. Yes we have a weird sense of humor and got married in our 40's. So Help!!

Answer: Henry Lauder's Walking Stick (Corylus avellana "Contorta") is grafted onto a different rootstock. It's usually grafted high (about 4' high). If this graft is damaged or if it dies, the branches your plant produces will be from the rootstock (a filbert tree), with standard branching patterns, not the twisted curving branches you expect. There's nothing you can do if the graft is damaged other than replace the tree. Before doing that, though, cut off the branches that do not curve and try to get in to inspect the graft. You want new growth from the graft or above, not from below the graft. (You might take the upright, straight branches as a sign that your marriage will be without the usual twists and curls.....)

Best wishes with your contorted filbert.

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