About 1 in 3,000 of the Ponderosa pines in Shevlin Park (Bend, OR) have one or more bizarre branches (see photo). The branches emerge from the tree trunk about 6 to 15 feet from the ground, and have a large diameter. They quickly ramify into many small contorted sub-branches. Could this be a mutation? A response to environmental stress? Something else?
That is likely caused by western dwarf mistletoe, Arceuthobium campylopodum, parasitic plant that is common in Ponderosa pine.
The branches are infected by the sticky seed of the dwarf mistletoe when young, and they may slowly deform over many years. Read more about this: Dwarf Mistletoes of Ponderosa Pine.