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While recently hiking in the southern mountains of New Hampshire, we came across a plant, and some of them were exhibiting what we interpreted to be a disease, or least unusual growth. On some of the nodes, there were a large number of extra stalks:

enter image description here

On each plant, the number and locations of these things varied, and not all of them had it. And we first assumed it was some ivy, or parasite, or separate plant, but it seemed pretty clear to us that it was coming right from the same branch.

We soon saw there were dead versions of this plant, and all of them had this "extra shoot" variation:

enter image description here

So we reasoned that no matter what this thing was -- natural variation or some kind of disease -- it was killing the plants.

Google image search was no help. It possibly identified the plant as a "viburnum", but was unable to help with the growth.

Anyone know what plant this is, or what this growth behavior is the result of?

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    $\begingroup$ Given the location and the harsh weather there, one possibility is that this is a kind of scrubby growth pattern in which the harsh weather kills a portion of the plant and then fresh shoots emerge the next spring. If you found these in more exposed locations that would be consistent with this idea. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Hanson Sep 16 '18 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ They not in exposed locations - quite the contrary, generally around the trail, underneath a canopy. But something to look up at least! $\endgroup$ – cduston Sep 16 '18 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ Based on the poorly-detailed pictures, I'd say it doesn't look like a Viburnum species to me sinply because Viburnums are oppositely arranged. If leaves are somewhat toothed (again, I can't tell), I'd say the leaves remind me of a cherry... $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Sep 16 '18 at 20:50
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Possibly an example of a "Witch's Broom."

enter image description here enter image description here

Witch's Broom is a deformity in plants (typically woody species) which typically causes dense patches of stems/shoots to grow from a single point on the plant. The name comes from the broom-like appearance of the stems.1

Witch's broom may be caused by many different types of organisms, including fungi, oomycetes, insects, mistletoe, dwarf mistletoes, mites, nematodes, phytoplasmas, or viruses.2


Sources: 1. Wikipedia 2. Book of the British Countryside. Pub. London : Drive Publications, (1973). p. 519 Image1. Gardeningknowhow.com Image2. Iowa state University

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    $\begingroup$ Oh awesome, this has got to be it. The Arnold Arboretum (in Boston), has a page which lists common species in my area to be afflicted by this - although it does not seem to include something like what we saw. I'm going to investigate a few more days, but this seems like the likely answer $\endgroup$ – cduston Sep 16 '18 at 22:24

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