The “Basket Tree” Was Formed by “Weaving” Six Sycamore Trees Together

April 23, 2021 at 9:19 pm

These six sycamore trees are forever bonded after being mysteriously “braided” together

Below is the strange story of how six trees became one.

In 1925, Californian farmer Axel Erlandson started a new hobby – tree shaping.

Inspired by the natural merging of two trees planted in the hedgerow around his garden, he began “assisting” more trees to form strange unions.

His first creation was called the Four-Legged Giant, in which he bent four closely planted trees into a sort of tree gazebo, before joining them all into one trunk.

Over the years Erlandson’s tree shaping projects got more and more complex. He experimented with box elders, birch, ash, elms and weeping willows, bending young, flexible trunks and branches into arches, cubes, zig-zags, spirals… until one day he got really crazy and decided to weave six sycamore trees into a “basket.”

He started by planting six trees in a circle, then topping them all at one foot, and then approach-grafting them together to form the diamond pattern.

In 1946, he moved his trees from his farm in Turlock, California to a more well-traveled route along the coast, near Santa Cruz and opened a tourist attraction called “The Tree Circus.”

His 70 or so mysterious trees were featured several times in Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

He never gave away any detailed instructions about how his methods, calling them trade secrets. When children visited and asked how he got the trees to grow that way , he simply said he “talked to them.

After Erlandson’s death in 1964, the Tree Circus fell into disrepair.

In 1984, Michael Bonfante – tree lover and owner of Nob Hill Foods – purchased the surviving 25 circus trees, and moved them yet again to Gilroy Gardens theme park, of which the Basket Tree is now the centerpiece.