Antelope bitterbrush, Purshia tridentata

wireme

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Kootenays, British Columbia
USDA Zone
3
#1
Has anyone tried bitterbrush before? its an extremely common and prolific plant here in drier exposed sites. An important winter grazing food source plant i believe. It's possible to find these plants with all the same characteristics of good junipers, great twisting lifelines, deadwood etc. as a bonus they get covered in small attractive yellow flowers each spring. It is however very difficult to find collectible plants. It's a bit like trying to find a collectible common juniper or collecting a ponderosa in deep sandy soils. Long taproots with no feeders seems to be the norm even when found in Rock pockets. I think so anyways, I've only tried to dig one so far but so it seems. Another challenge is the fact that these bushes are beginning to push growth while I still have a good two feet of snow in my yard.
Anyways I attempted one this year, it appeared to be more collectible than others I have seen. It was growing atop a large mound of old woody debris and was pretty easy to get a large undisturbed ball of soil under the trunk. Disappointingly most of the soil fell away anyways leaving the typical long tapering taproot with very few feeders. I didn't expect much but it has been growing very slowly since. It
Looks like it will make it through this summer fine, the test will be next spring when ill find out if it was able to store enough energy for another growth flush next summer. Fingers crossed, it is quite a nice bit of material. If anyone else has tried this species I'd love to hear how you did with them. image.jpg image.jpg
 

wireme

Masterpiece
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Location
Kootenays, British Columbia
USDA Zone
3
#2
Here is the plant that has gotten me really excited about this species. As always it's hard to capture the quality of a plant in the wild with a photo. This one if it was a juniper would easily be considered future show quality material, it is very, very nice. It also appears to have more than just the one long root, I think if I spend enough time extracting I will have a much better root system than this years attempt. Given the possible success of this years tree I think it's reasonable to give this one a shot next spring. I would sure love to see it nicely styled up and covered in little yellow flowers! As I mentioned before these plants are an important winter food source so that should be thought of before disturbing the area. The removal of one or two plants among millions should not have a real impact, younger more vigorous plants will soon take up the space created. The critical thing is to not leave bare soil for invasive plants ie: knapp weed to gain a foothold in. Holes need to be well filled in and covered with native vegetation, grasses, moss etc. here's the tree I'm talking about, just found it a couple nights ago, I hope someday I can show you a better photo of this tree well established in a bonsai pot.
Mp image.jpg
 

wireme

Masterpiece
Messages
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Location
Kootenays, British Columbia
USDA Zone
3
#3
Here is the plant that has gotten me really excited about this species. As always it's hard to capture the quality of a plant in the wild with a photo. This one if it was a juniper would easily be considered future show quality material, it is very, very nice. It also appears to have more than just the one long root, I think if I spend enough time extracting I will have a much better root system than this years attempt. Given the possible success of this years tree I think it's reasonable to give this one a shot next spring. I would sure love to see it nicely styled up and covered in little yellow flowers! As I mentioned before these plants are an important winter food source so that should be thought of before disturbing the area. The removal of one or two plants among millions should not have a real impact, younger more vigorous plants will soon take up the space created. The critical thing is to not leave bare soil for invasive plants ie: knapp weed to gain a foothold in. Holes need to be well filled in and covered with native vegetation, grasses, moss etc. here's the tree I'm talking about, just found it a couple nights ago, I hope someday I can show you a better photo of this tree well established in a bonsai pot. image.jpg
Mp
 
Messages
337
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8
Location
Northwest, FL
USDA Zone
8/9
#4
what i try to do if a plant seems harder to collect is to trench out half of the roots one year and back fill with garden soil or even bonsai soil and then the next year do the same to the other side and depending on how fast they put out new roots you can collect it the following year or so...and you can cut that long tap root. or you could try to ground layer it...just some ideas.
 

wireme

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Kootenays, British Columbia
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#5
Ill keep that technique in mind as I explore this species for sure. In most cases though it seems that there is nothing to sever if a trench was dug but the taproot itself. Ill keep looking, must be some collectible ones out there.
 
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8
Location
Northwest, FL
USDA Zone
8/9
#6
good luck in your search i am interested to see if this species can be worked into something nice!
 
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Location
Toronto
USDA Zone
6A
#7
Never heard of this species but collected broadleaf trees in general are unusual. These things you posted look awesome! If one is uncollectable and backfilling is not an option you could even go crazy and try to layer it in the bush. I doubt I can find the thread but on an Italian bonsai forum Enrico Savini posted an amazing story of him layering a crazy sabina juniper on the mountain. The one thing you have going for you is that usually broadleaf trees are usually easier to layer than conifers.
 

Arcto

Chumono
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Location
Western Washington
#8
Any updates? Very common here too. Agencies often work at removing it in areas as it is a ladder fuel. I just found a monster one nearby. Doubt it is collectable but may poke around. If it looks positive, I'll scurry back next year permit in hand.
 

wireme

Masterpiece
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Kootenays, British Columbia
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#9
Any updates? Very common here too. Agencies often work at removing it in areas as it is a ladder fuel. I just found a monster one nearby. Doubt it is collectable but may poke around. If it looks positive, I'll scurry back next year permit in hand.
Not much to update, the one I collected stayed green for the first summer barely and didn't come back the next spring. I hope to dig the nightshot tree next spring, I have a mist house now so that should help. I've inspected hundreds more and they never look easy to get much in terms of roots. I still hope to have or see someone have success with some one day, I guess you've seen them flowering in springtime?
 

Arcto

Chumono
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Location
Western Washington
#10
I had one survive in CO. A ground to ground transplant. Otherwise, sure you are seeing what I see. 1-3 big roots going straight down. Yes, they bloom like crazy here in that period when your eye is fatigued from all the brown and gray. I'll try to remember to take a pic to post of THE ONE. Pretty sure it's a no go, but we can always dream can't we? BTW, the one I transplanted was a measly 1/2" caliber runt if that's helpful.
 
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Location
Western Washington
#11
image.jpg
I may have discovered a way to successfully collect these. First, pick a warm sunny day, mid summer. Be sure here is a good breeze to dry things up too. Go out to weed your landscape beds. Be sure not to wear any corrective eyewear that actually allows you to see what you are doing.
Grab a handful of small plants and pull strongly. You want to make sure you have ripped the entire plants out bare root. Glance at them right before you throw them away. Say something to the effect of "huh? This look like Antelope Bitterbrush". Walk the plants, still bare root, through the warm, sunny breeze to your potting area. Pot em up and water. Make sure the tiny bare roots are exposed to air for at least a couple of minutes or more before planting. That was over a week ago. Photo taken today.
 
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69
Location
Seattle, WA
USDA Zone
8b
#12
Anyone have updates on efforts for this species? I just discovered it and had the same thought that they look like junipers.
 

milehigh_7

Mister 500,000
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Chandler, AZ
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Hot
#13
Yep, they are fantastic! They have a great deal of promise I do believe. I have had 3 over the years and will have more.
 
Messages
71
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69
Location
Seattle, WA
USDA Zone
8b
#14
Can you provide more information (and maybe pictures) about those you have had and how you got them? Others have said they have long taproots which makes collection survival difficult. What has your experience been? I haven't tried collecting any yet, but I wholly intend to.
 

milehigh_7

Mister 500,000
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Chandler, AZ
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#15
Can you provide more information (and maybe pictures) about those you have had and how you got them? Others have said they have long taproots which makes collection survival difficult. What has your experience been? I haven't tried collecting any yet, but I wholly intend to.
You can get them from native nurseries I'll try to get you some info later
 

milehigh_7

Mister 500,000
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#16
Here is a thread about a different species of Purshia https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/cliff-rose-purshia-glandulosa.10742/ I will keep trying to find my other stuff... I sold this one when I lost my house. but it did pretty well. I bought it from a nursery that deals in natives. Like creosote, many natives are difficult to collect but do well if you can get them established.
 

wireme

Masterpiece
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Location
Kootenays, British Columbia
USDA Zone
3
#17
Anyone have updates on efforts for this species? I just discovered it and had the same thought that they look like junipers.
Not me, the tester one I tried just barely made it through first summer and that's it. Every winter I dream of that one great one up the mountain, the window is short, it will be flushing growth the same day the snow melts off the access road.
That's probably today actually and here I am again up to my eyeballs in work and things that need doing right now or yesterday! Probably anothe year will pass... That one real nice one Probably actually is collectible but most that I look at I think attempting ground layers on site is probably the best bet due to the taproot to China syndrome. Earlier the better to collect them is my feeling like before buds open at all. No basis for saying that just a hunch. Hope someone gets a few going even if I don't.
 
Messages
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Location
Seattle, WA
USDA Zone
8b
#18
Probably a good basis. Thanks all! They are plentiful and fast growers, so I might collect a few smaller ones, prepare some larger ones and see what happens.
 
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42
Likes
23
Location
Elk Ridge, UT.
USDA Zone
6a
#19
Any update on these? I love them and collected one with good girth this spring 2018 and it's still hanging in there. As others have observed though I did not collect much root.
When I saw it struggling just after collecting, I removed a large amount of foliage, and it seems to be doing well and even put on some new growth.
I have my eye on a truly amazing specimen that I would like to bring home but I would rather not have to butcher it like I did this one. it's a bit bigger and I'm hoping I can collect more root this time.
it is located rather near my home, so I don't mind making it a multi-season project if I need to do some preparation. If anybody has any success stories or advice with the ground layering or some such technique I would love to give it a shot
 
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