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I bought a house where the previous owner had planted 3 trees within inches of each other. They are all 5 feet tall now. As this is the first time I've ever seen multiple trunks crowded together, I would like to know the purpose of this positioning. Or if there is no purpose and it is actually detrimental to each tree, please let me know.

The following illustrates the blueberry-sized fruit that the trees are currently producing. Perhaps this photo can help someone identify the exact species of fruit. I was told by a construction worker that this is guava, however the variant is unknown.

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The following illustrates how two trunks are growing out of the ground within 2 inches of each other. The third trunk in the back is much thinner.

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I believe guava can be grown as a multi-stemmed tree, and this is probably what you have. I'm not familiar with growing guava outside, but other fruit trees are sometimes planted close together to a) provide pollinators without taking up a lot of space and b) to stunt the growth of the trees, so they stay a reasonable size. It is also possible that this is what the original gardener was going for, although those look rather closer than you'd want them ideally.

Either way, I agree that it doesn't look terribly healthy, and having a county extension agent check out a cutting would be a good idea.

  • What exactly does multi-stemmed mean? Did someone artificially plant 3 trees together or did the guava naturally sprout 3 stems from one seed? Do they stems converge into one trunk below the soil? – JoJo Nov 19 '13 at 18:47
  • Multi-stemmed generally means that one plant has produced multiple "trunks." You would have to dig down a bit around the trunks to tell if they are all part of the same plant, or if they are indeed three different plants. If it is one trunk below ground, then either this plant normally likes to grow that way, or something cut off the growing top at some point and it sprouted three more growing tips (trunks) to compensate. (Single seeds generally don't grow more than one growing tip to start off with, although they may add trunks later if that's their preferred form to grow in.) – TeresaMcgH Nov 19 '13 at 20:59
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As far as I'm aware, this is detrimental to each tree and you should cut off 2 of them to focus the available light, moisture, and nutrients to the one tree.

The trees may be sprouts from a larger single tree that was cut down for some reason or they may be sprouts from guava seeds that were dropped there naturally by birds or as part of a compost heap or just spit there and rooted naturally. It's hard to tell.

However, the leaves in the pictures you provided do not look entirely healthy and you might consider taking them to your county extension agent to make sure they're not diseased or otherwise unhealthy.

The best course of action may be to dig up all 3 trees, purchase a single healthy new tree, and plant that in their place. That would be what I'd do in your situation.

  • Another possibility is this may be a multi-trunked shrub, which for some types of shrubs is perfectly normal. I'd definitely take it to the county extension agent for identification and a check to see if it's in distress, but I'd wait to cut off trunks until it was identified, and you find out whether it normally tends to grow this way or not. – TeresaMcgH Nov 18 '13 at 21:52
  • The photos are taken recently. It is now winter time in Bay Area, California. It sometimes drops to 50 degrees F at night. I read that guava leaves will become brown when subject to cold weather, however they will only die if frosted. But we never get snow in Bay Area, California and we rarely go under 50 degrees F. – JoJo Nov 19 '13 at 18:45

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