« Back to Glossary Index
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
espalier (noun)
a plant (as a fruit tree) trained to grow flat against a support (as a wall)
a railing or trellis on which fruit trees or shrubs are trained to grow flat
espalier (verb)
transitive verb
to train as an espalier
to furnish with an espalier
Espalier (Wikipedia)

Espalier (/ɪˈspælɪər/ or /ɪˈspæli./) is the horticultural and ancient agricultural practice of controlling woody plant growth for the production of fruit, by pruning and tying branches to a frame. Plants are frequently shaped in formal patterns, flat against a structure such as a wall, fence, or trellis, and also plants which have been shaped in this way.

A horizontal espalier
Free-standing espaliered fruit trees (step-over) at Standen, West Sussex, England, May 2006. As can be seen, the trees are used to create a fruit border or low hedge.

Espaliers, trained into flat two-dimensional forms, are used not only for decorative purposes, but also for gardens in which space is limited. In a temperate climate, espaliers may be trained next to a wall that can reflect more sunlight and retain heat overnight or orientated so that they absorb maximum sunlight by training them parallel to the equator. These two strategies allow the season to be extended so that fruit has more time to mature.

A restricted form of training consists of a central stem and a number of paired horizontal branches all trained in the same plane. The most important advantage is that of being able to increase the growth of a branch by training it vertically. Later, one can decrease growth while increasing fruit production by training it horizontally.

« Back to Glossary Index