...and most importantly, age is almost completely irrelevant when it comes to bonsai. It doesn't matter how old a tree is. What matters is how old a tree looks.You're overthinking it...Bonsai have two ages, generally. Their natural age and their "bonsai" age. A collected 200 year old oak remains 200 years old when it is converted to bonsai cultivation, since in bonsai, the oldest part of the tree--the base, is used. It's "bonsai" age is how long it has been containerized. If you're growing from seed or using saplings the two ages are closer together.
Or if you take a cutting from one... is the cutting only a couple of years old because that branch grew in the last two years? Or is it part of a 200 year old tree... therefore the cutting is considered 200 years old?A better question. If you air layer a 200 year old oak, is it still a 200 year old oak, or a new tree?
The answer is a qualified "yes"A better question. If you air layer a 200 year old oak, is it still a 200 year old oak, or a new tree?
You answered an either/or question with a "yes"The answer is a qualified "yes"
Ok, how about we present the question differently?You answered an either/or question with a "yes"
We have joked about this before, because to be a cultivar, the material HAS to be a clone of the source material. It can't "look like". It can't "be a seed from". It has to be genetically identical. All Valencia orange trees in the world came from one tree. All kotobuki yatsubusa Japanese Black Pines came from one tree. Let's say the source material was 100 years old. Let's say one of the original cuttings taken from it is now 20 years old. Take a cutting from each tree. They are genetic clones. Is one older than the other? How old is each?
If yes, I'd say the cutting is a 39 YO plant. If no, I'd say it is a new plant.Ok, how about we present the question differently?
For the sake of the argument assume that the following statement is true:
"Like their blossoms, flowering cherry trees themselves are fairly ephemeral too, at least as trees go. Most cultivars live only 30 to 40 years."
If I take a cutting from a 39 year old flowering cherry should I expect it to live for only one year? (I know this has been asked before, but I guess it is relevant for this discussion.)
IMHO, bonsai trees need two numbers for their age in most cases, with one for the age of the tree, and one denoting the number of years training. These two numbers can be the same thing. There are exceptions, of course.If a small tree in a pot is 10 years old and removed from the pot and turned into a bonsai, does the age of the bonsai start at 10 years or does it start when it is turned into a bonsai?