Witch’s brooms in trees: what are they and how do they arise?

Witch’s brooms in trees: what are they and how do they arise?
Witch’s brooms in trees: what are they and how do they arise?

Besides bird nests and mistletoes, there’s another reason for forests of branches in trees: witches’ brooms. What are they and how do they arise?

How are witches’ brooms created?

When you see witches’ brooms, it may seem that birds have been busy building nests. However, it is not birds, but proliferations in the tree itself that cause it. This is especially noticeable when the trees are still bare. They are caused by a fungus and it mainly occurs in birches. The fungus ensures that the dormant buds in a tree develop. These grow into a tangle of twigs, in the shape of bulbs. In addition to fungi, gall mites can also cause witches’ brooms. They owe their name to the fact that in ancient times it was believed that brooms were left behind when witches accidentally flew into a tree with their broom during their nightly escapades.

Are witches’ brooms harmful to trees?

It usually does not stop at 1 witches’ broom in a tree. When the fungi spread, bulbs with branches can grow in several places in the tree. That’s quite a special sight. This is not really bad for the tree, it can simply continue to live with it. It also offers a good hiding place for insects. Ladybugs, for example, like to hibernate in it. It is possible to remove the affected parts. This can be done by sawing it away and then burning it, but this often does not make a tree any more beautiful. It is also possible to choose less susceptible (resistant) species or varieties when planting new trees.

Report observation

Do you see a tree with witches’ brooms somewhere? Then you can report this via redactie.nl. It keeps track of where the natural phenomenon can be seen and photos of it can also be seen.

(Source: Vroege Vogels, MijnTuin.org, Trouw, redactie.nl. Photos: Shutterstock)


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