When trunks or branches (sometimes roots) grow together and bond or merge into each other – we call that inosculation.  This biological oddity is actually used as the basis for the process of grafting – it is very uncommon in nature.


Tree trunk grew into the adjacent tree trunk !



This is a common agricultural process where stems from one variety and attached to another and secured together until they grow into each other. Its main advantage is that some varieties produce better fruit than others but may have weak root systems.  By attaching them the chosen variety can be made to grow off the one with a better root system.


Common practice in the citrus industry – grafting!





Aside from grafting, the most widely used form in ornamental horticulture is in the merging of fruit trees to produce Belgian Fences. The inosculation actually allows all the individual plants to share a fluid sap system.  This in turn permits hormones that control blooming to make them all bloom at the same time!

Pleaching is an aesthetic choice when making rows of trees to form a large hedge.  Usually on both sides of a large outdoor space.  Its function is to help guide your eye towards the horizon – towards a focal point at the end of the garden.

Espaliers are a big space saver as the fruit tree is made to grow against a wall. Horizontal and vertical inosculation help the trunks support each other as the wood grows.


Tying crossing branches together to form a Belgian fence.


A mature Belgian fence in fall


A row of trees are planted together and encouraged to inosculate to form a pleached hedge 





The grafting of branches together has also led many horticulturists to become sculptors !!!  Botanical artists have been using live trees to form fantasy shapes and figures in nature since the mid 1700’s. My favorite artists are Axel Erlandson and Richard Reams.  Google them – its fascinating !



A pair of living chairs – Inosculation Rules !!!



At Plant Specialists, our Landscape Design team has used many of these magical plants in gardens.  They are a magnificent addition and a significant point of conversation.

Our Garden Care team of horticulturists have worked on many of these examples as well, and are trained in their special pruning needs.

Call us – put some magic in your garden !






Article written by our Staff Horticulturist, Peter B Morris, BSc, MSc, MBA

All photographs used with permission @SHUTTERSTOCK