Evergreen tree growing weird branches ?

(Question)

Hey there,

I moved into my house 7 years ago and had these lovely evergreen trees on my front yard. They’ve always looked the same and I’ve had no problems with them until now. This year, one of the trees started growing these weird looking branches on the top which worries me that the other may start doing the same if not taken care of. I’m not familiar with the type of tree but have asked for help from a few gardening places with no solutions.

See if u can identify the type of tree and the problem.
Thanks !

 

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners regarding your not-so-unusual weird growth of one of your evergreen trees. This growth is a genetic mutation reversion of the Alberta spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’) tree to its species, one of the various spruce species (Picea). The following university extension document explains the phenomenon:  http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/understanding_tree_reversions

The document suggests removing the reversed mutation; however the growth is so very large on your tree that it would likely be an unsatisfactory solution. The pair of Alberta Spruce trees that you own are likely about 10 years old, and it would seem prudent to remove both and replace them with a pair of another tree type, evergreen or deciduous. There is a wealth of choice of shape (perhaps columnar such as a beech with copper leaves that remain on until Spring), or a flowering deciduous type such as a newer cultivar of crabapple which would provide blossom and fruit. Evergreens may have bluish or even yellow foliage. Searching the web will provide many ideas.

I would recommend that replacement trees be planted a little further away from the house wall. When planting dig the hole, breaking up the edges of the hole, twice as wide as the canopy but not deeper than the plant was in the container. Spread the roots out around the tree, do not amend the soil but backfill with native soil. Water well and mulch with 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) of organic material such as composted pine bark, compost, well-rotted manure, but keep it away from the trunk by 2-3 inches (5-7 cm). Keep well watered for at least the first growing season.

We wish you well.