No, the stems are not malformed! They grow naturally in this bizarre, twisted, tortured manner. So unusual you'll want to plant Walking Stick where it will be seen - and admired - for its unique beauty. Especially interesting in the winter when the twisted branches are in full view. The Walking Stick makes a unique contrast to more conventional shrubs. Sub-zero hardy. Grows well in sun or shade, and can be grown in a container. Reaches 6-7' at maturity. We send sturdy 15-18" plants. Good for cutting.