This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
When I was a boy, years and years ago, there grew on my father's land, in the western part of the township of Belchertown, Mass., a large chestnut tree, from the south side of which, about six inches from the ground, there shot out a gray birch (Betula populifolia). The birch was, perhaps, three or four inches through and was alive, but seemed not to like its unnatural union with the chestnut tree. I lately asked a gentleman of Phil, adelphia, who used to range the woods and rocks with me in boyhood, if he remembered the remarkable phenomenon I have mentioned. He remembered it perfectly. It was a most singular thing. The ground was entirely wild and densely wooded; but my father sold the place thirty-five years ago, and the trees were all cleared off soon after. Merchantville, N. J.
[These occurrences arise from several circumstances; among these may be mentioned that a seed will germinate in a hollow cavity in the thick bark, and then send its roots down through this old (really dead) bark to the ground; or two trees of different kinds will spring up near each other, and the tree which has the power to make the most rapid growth of wood, will in time completely surround the weaker one, just as the growth of a stem will enclose a piece of wire by which a label may be fastened. These appearances often suggest that the two have been grafted together. But this is not the case. Each is supported by its own roots, and, though we do not know of any actual experiment to prove it, we suppose a branch of one kind apparently well united to the other, when of different families of trees, would die at once if separated from its roots, which though, perhaps, unseen as in the case of this birch, must be connected with it somewhere. - Ed. G. M].