American beech (Fagus grandifolia) collecting and as bonsai

Slow Learner

Yamadori
Messages
84
Reaction score
49
Location
Havre de Grace MD
USDA Zone
7a
I am considering trying to collect an American beech this spring to work on. They are one of my favorite trees and are readily available. It should be much quicker than trying to grow from seed.

I would like to know if others have had success collecting and training American beech and are willing to offer advice regarding when and how to collect and eventually train.

I have seen very few good examples, namely the A. beech at the National Arboretum in the National Collection. I think it is good but not great. I know leaf reduction is a difficult. Is scarring also an issue? Any other issues?
 

Wilson

Masterpiece
Messages
2,108
Reaction score
3,708
Location
Eastern townships, Quebec
USDA Zone
4
One of my favorite trees is the american beech from @Steve Kudela he has set the bar high! I find if you are taking them from a dense forest, you need to take your time introducing full sun. I have had a couple bake in hot dry weather. They are really beautiful trees, lots in the woods next to me. You have all winter to read and prepare, being physically ready to deal with the trees is pretty important.
 

JudyB

Queen of the Nuts
Messages
11,918
Reaction score
16,320
Location
South East of Cols. OH
USDA Zone
5b
They are difficult trees to collect, develop and maintain. They are often root connected to a mother tree. You might do a little better with EU. Beech, if you can find one. I have a couple beech, here are thread links to them. Some leaf reduction is possible, but it's best just to work with a larger tree. They don't like a lot of fertilizer early on before the leaves have hardened, and they hate wind...
http://www.bonsainut.com/threads/beech-wired-and-ready.7047/
http://www.bonsainut.com/threads/japanese-red-beech.15074/
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,014
Reaction score
10,817
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
I am considering trying to collect an American beech this spring to work on. They are one of my favorite trees and are readily available. It should be much quicker than trying to grow from seed.

I would like to know if others have had success collecting and training American beech and are willing to offer advice regarding when and how to collect and eventually train.

I have seen very few good examples, namely the A. beech at the National Arboretum in the National Collection. I think it is good but not great. I know leaf reduction is a difficult. Is scarring also an issue? Any other issues?
Do a search on the species here. I had a collected one for 15-16 years or so. NOT an easy tree to manage. Would NOT recommend it for anyone with less than a five years of bonsai experience. Requires specialized pruning to push backbudding and branching. It is also e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y s-l-o-o-o-w as bonsai. It has only a single flush of new growth in the spring. Most tree temperate tree species have at least a couple. Managing that slowness takes a bit of effort.

They can also be a pain to collect. Around here, most of the beeches in the woods tend to share their root systems with neighboring beeches. Some are mature root suckers from older neighboring parent trees. That means the tree you have your eye on in the woods MAY NOT have its own root system, or a partial, lopsided root system that will require ground layering for a year or more to get a root system established.

FWIW, that American beech in the National Arb collection is the product of some expert work by someone with knowledge of how to treat this species. If you think that one is only "good," then you haven't seen many. To someone who has worked with the species over a period of time, I can say that one is exceptional. The ramification on the branching alone is formidable. Add to it the substantial leaf reduction (which is repeated every year with little variation) and it's a damn nice American Beech.
 
Last edited:

BonsaiMobius

Yamadori
Messages
54
Reaction score
185
Location
Falls Church, Virginia: Zone 7a
USDA Zone
7a
To someone who has worked with the species over a period of time, I can say that one is exceptional. The ramification on the branching alone is formidable. Add to it the substantial leaf reduction (which is repeated every year with little variation) and it's a damn nice American Beech.
Rockm, I agree, the American Beech at the National Arboretum is the best I think I have seen. Here are some pictures of it I took last year.

American Beech  3.jpg American Beech 4.jpg American Beech 5.jpg American Beech.jpg
 

Giga

Masterpiece
Messages
3,808
Reaction score
4,593
Location
Virginia beach, VA
USDA Zone
7-8
I have 5 American Beech - 4 collected this year one larger 2 years ago - best to find one one with low branches already on them and not just a bare trunk. Very slow growers and if branches are already on it - development is much fast and rewarding.

I have found them very ez to collect when there isolated tree's - dig them out with root ball intacted - then I bare root them and pot them up with in a couple hours. I had another one that I lost but thats only because it got to hot in the spot it was. My fault ,as they hate hot wind
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,014
Reaction score
10,817
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
If I'm not mistaken, the branches on the Am. Beech at the Arb are grafts.
 

BrianBay9

Omono
Messages
1,137
Reaction score
1,456
Location
Marina, CA
USDA Zone
10a
I have 5 American Beech - 4 collected this year one larger 2 years ago - best to find one one with low branches already on them and not just a bare trunk. Very slow growers and if branches are already on it - development is much fast and rewarding.

I have found them very ez to collect when there isolated tree's - dig them out with root ball intacted - then I bare root them and pot them up with in a couple hours. I had another one that I lost but thats only because it got to hot in the spot it was. My fault ,as they hate hot wind

No disrespect intended, but I wouldn't consider an Am beech collection successful for at least two to three years after collection. They are slow to establish new roots, and tend to throw out new growth on their reserves alone.....dying off later. I would be very cautious about working the tree. Wait until they are pushing aggressive new growth, wait another season, then start. When I first gave them a try I was fooled into thinking I was doing great, only to lose the tree the next year. There are less frustrating species to work with.

Brian
 

just.wing.it

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,252
Reaction score
11,495
Location
Blips and Chitz (Northern MD, 6b...ish)
USDA Zone
6B
I think Judy and Brian nailed all the major bullet points of everything I've ever read about Am. Beech.
Don't be discouraged, however...
If nothing else, you will learn from the experience.
Good luck!
 

Giga

Masterpiece
Messages
3,808
Reaction score
4,593
Location
Virginia beach, VA
USDA Zone
7-8
No disrespect intended, but I wouldn't consider an Am beech collection successful for at least two to three years after collection. They are slow to establish new roots, and tend to throw out new growth on their reserves alone.....dying off later. I would be very cautious about working the tree. Wait until they are pushing aggressive new growth, wait another season, then start. When I first gave them a try I was fooled into thinking I was doing great, only to lose the tree the next year. There are less frustrating species to work with.

Brian
Have to disagree with you there - The bigger beech I have - was lightly wired the following year after collecting - and this year it was trimmed to push a second spurt of growth. It's pushing very strong growth and not on reserves, And I know when A tree is stressed and shouldn't be touched. This is why I say collect with branches already on them. I found that if you collect with a bare trunk - the tree is very weak and can die and the drop of the hat, and take 2-4 years to grow strong again. While if there already a bunch of branches that will push leaves and help the tree grow strong, the development is much faster and the tree is much stronger.
 

Slow Learner

Yamadori
Messages
84
Reaction score
49
Location
Havre de Grace MD
USDA Zone
7a
Thank you all for the comments and advice.

If I'm not mistaken, the branches on the Am. Beech at the Arb are grafts.
I was not able to find any information about Dr. Fred Mies grafting branches on to the beech. You may be right. I am curious as to where you heard this, an old bonsai journal article or personal exchange with Dr. Mies or another bonsai artist nearby. Dr. Mies was member of a bonsai club in the DC area. It is a wonderful tree and will serve as inspiration should I choose to attempt to collect a beech or two.
 

BrianBay9

Omono
Messages
1,137
Reaction score
1,456
Location
Marina, CA
USDA Zone
10a
I found that if you collect with a bare trunk - the tree is very weak and can die and the drop of the hat, and take 2-4 years to grow strong again. While if there already a bunch of branches that will push leaves and help the tree grow strong, the development is much faster and the tree is much stronger.
This may be the difference in our experiences then. I'm not sure I've ever found a beech to collect with low branching already in place.
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,014
Reaction score
10,817
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
Thank you all for the comments and advice.


I was not able to find any information about Dr. Fred Mies grafting branches on to the beech. You may be right. I am curious as to where you heard this, an old bonsai journal article or personal exchange with Dr. Mies or another bonsai artist nearby. Dr. Mies was member of a bonsai club in the DC area. It is a wonderful tree and will serve as inspiration should I choose to attempt to collect a beech or two.
I don't have any concrete info. I was going from what I've seen in person. the lower branch has a "thread graft-ish" look in the way it meets the trunk...
 
Messages
1
Reaction score
0
USDA Zone
7-8
I have 5 American Beech - 4 collected this year one larger 2 years ago - best to find one one with low branches already on them and not just a bare trunk. Very slow growers and if branches are already on it - development is much fast and rewarding.

I have found them very ez to collect when there isolated tree's - dig them out with root ball intacted - then I bare root them and pot them up with in a couple hours. I had another one that I lost but thats only because it got to hot in the spot it was. My fault ,as they hate hot wind
Hi Giga,
At what time of year did you collect your Am. Beech? I flagged several last fall that were of interest. I am now trying to make plans to collect a couple but I'm unsure of the best time.

Thanks
 

mattspiniken

Chumono
Messages
920
Reaction score
2,362
Location
Northern Michigan
USDA Zone
5
A quick story about my only collected American Beech. I collected it about 3 years ago in the early spring. About 2 weeks after collecting it we had a really strong freeze here. Every leaf was scorched and fell off, I figured the tree was going to die. I just left it there and about 2 weeks later there were about 50-60 new buds all over the tree. I still have the tree today, although I am really not a big fan of the species. I can't get the leaves to look nice and healthy. I will be selling mine at my club auction in the spring.
 

Similar threads


Top Bottom