"Bald Cypress Primer" Ryan Neil's video at BonsaiMirai.com has me ripping my hair out

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#1
Literally ripping out my hair. I'm watching Ryan Niel's video "Bald Cypress Primer". I'm at the 1:19:40 mark. Ryan is discussing oxygen and water balance for the bald cypress. My forehead is in my hands and I've got my hair in my fists; falling onto my desk.

First: That's not a bald cypress (taxodium distichum). That is a pond cypress (taxodium ascendens). Even if we go with the controversial "taxodium distichm var. imbricatum", it's still a pond cypress. Look at the leaves. They're going vertical and they're appressed (thin). Bless his heart. Every time he says "bald cypress" I purse my lips.

Second: Bald and pond cypresses form a buttress not because they are swollen with water (as stated in the video), but because they've formed schizogenic intercellular space (aerenchyma) for transport of oxygen. For trees that must withstand periodic flooding, the employment and unemployment cycles for aerenchyma leads to development and redevelopment of that structure. While in continuously flooded trees, the spaces are even larger. Thus, the flooded parts of the plant keep growing the structures required to transport oxygen.

"It is likely that well-developed intercellular spaces [aerenchyma] in the phloem of [continuously flooded] bald cypress saplings permitted oxygen transport to the root system..." Megonigal, Day "Effects of Flooding On Root and Shoot Production of Bald Cypress in Large Experimental Enclosures", Ecology, Vol. 73, No. 4 (Aug., 1992), pp. 1182-1193, Ecological Society of America

"A layer of spongy tissue characterized by loosely packed parenchyma cells and schizogenic intercellular spaces occurred in the outer 1/4 of the phloem of [periodically flooded] plants but often extended to near the cambial layer in the phloem of [continuously flooded] plants."
ibid

"Ethylene, a volitile gaseous plant hormone, increases when plant roots are inundated. The enzyme cellulase then increases, causing cell walls to dissolve in the cortex. As these cell walls decompose air channels called aerenchyma develop in the root and stem of some plants and are thought to aid in oxygen transport from aerial portions of the shoot to the flooded root system"
Chiplis, Dan J., citing earlier works, "Effect of Flooding on Trunk Diameter in Bald Cypress and Its Application as a Bonsai Technique" Bonsai Clubs International, September/October 1990

"Ethylene is also thought to play a roll in stem hypertrophy. Stem hypertrophy is caused by enlargement of cells and increased intercellular spaces. It is a symptomatic reaction to waterlogging believed to improve the plant's tolerance to flooding." ibid

Third: Knees do not exist for gas exchange (as stated in the video). Lenticels do not appear in the developing bark tissue of knees. Their may be some gas exchange, but not enough to say that is their function.

"...we conclude that storage of starch is the major function of baldcypress [sic] knees." [emphasis, mine] Brown, Montz "Baldcypress / The Tree Unique, The Wood Eternal" 1986 - Claitor's Publishing Division

Think of it as a stem potato (like a yam), but on a tree. It's not a snorkel. It stores food in times of plenty and sends the food down to the roots during hard times. Potatoes grown in sunlight produce an excess amount of sugars. The sugars are combined into complex starch molecules for storage. When the plant needs the energy, the starches are broken back down into sugars. In a bald cypress, the knees are there to feed the roots.

I'll be conducting my own multi-year experiment to see if I can grow knees. I have several ideas as to what will influence knee development based partly on some things that I expect will encourage knee development. Unfortunately, I don't have enough room, or funding, to make it a controlled experiment. I'm just going to try a few different things on a few populations of 3 or 4 trees each. I won't be able to definitively say exactly what and why, but I'll be able to say "This is how I did it." (or I'll fail and no knees will form or many trees die. It's going to be exciting!) I'll publish my results (to BonsaiNut and YouTube, of course) in about 10 years. :rolleyes:
 
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Adair M

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#4
Literally ripping out my hair. I'm watching Ryan Niel's video "Bald Cypress Primer". I'm at the 1:19:40 mark. Ryan is discussing oxygen and water balance for the bald cypress. My forehead is in my hands and I've got my hair in my fists; falling onto my desk.

First: That's not a bald cypress (taxodium distichum). That is a pond cypress (taxodium ascendens). Even if we go with the controversial "taxodium distichm var. imbricatum", it's still a pond cypress. Look at the leaves. They're going vertical and they're appressed (thin). Bless his heart. Every time he says "bald cypress" I purse my lips.

Second: Bald and pond cypresses form a buttress not because they are swollen with water (as stated in the video), but because they've formed schizogenic intercellular space (aerenchyma) for transport of oxygen. For trees that must withstand periodic flooding, the employment and unemployment cycles for aerenchyma leads to development and redevelopment of that structure. While in continuously flooded trees, the spaces are even larger. Thus, the flooded parts of the plant keep growing the structures required to transport oxygen.

"It is likely that well-developed intercellular spaces [aerenchyma] in the phloem of [continuously flooded] bald cypress saplings permitted oxygen transport to the root system..." Megonigal, Day "Effects of Flooding On Root and Shoot Production of Bald Cypress in Large Experimental Enclosures", Ecology, Vol. 73, No. 4 (Aug., 1992), pp. 1182-1193, Ecological Society of America

"A layer of spongy tissue characterized by loosely packed parenchyma cells and schizogenic intercellular spaces occurred in the outer 1/4 of the phloem of [periodically flooded] plants but often extended to near the cambial layer in the phloem of [continuously flooded] plants."
ibid

"Ethylene, a volitile gaseous plant hormone, increases when plant roots are inundated. The enzyme cellulase then increases, causing cell walls to dissolve in the cortex. As these cell walls decompose air channels called aerenchyma develop in the root and stem of some plants and are thought to aid in oxygen transport from aerial portions of the shoot to the flooded root system"
Chiplis, Dan J., citing earlier works, "Effect of Flooding on Trunk Diameter in Bald Cypress and Its Application as a Bonsai Technique" Bonsai Clubs International, September/October 1990

"Ethylene is also thought to play a roll in stem hypertrophy. Stem hypertrophy is caused by enlargement of cells and increased intercellular spaces. It is a symptomatic reaction to waterlogging believed to improve the plant's tolerance to flooding." ibid

Third: Knees do not exist for gas exchange (as stated in the video). Lenticels do not appear in the developing bark tissue of knees. Their may be some gas exchange, but not enough to say that is their function.

"...we conclude that storage of starch is the major function of baldcypress [sic] knees." [emphasis, mine] Brown, Montz "Baldcypress / The Tree Unique, The Wood Eternal" 1986 - Claitor's Publishing Division

Think of it as a stem potato (like a yam), but on a tree. It's not a snorkel. It stores food in times of plenty and sends the food down to the roots during hard times. Potatoes grown in sunlight produce an excess amount of sugars. The sugars are combined into complex starch molecules for storage. When the plant needs the energy, the starches are broken back down into sugars. In a bald cypress, the knees are there to feed the roots.

I'll be conducting my own multi-year experiment to see if I can grow knees. I have several ideas as to what will influence knee development based partly on some things that I expect will encourage knee development. Unfortunately, I don't have enough room, or funding, to make it a controlled experiment. I'm just going to try a few different things on a few populations of 3 or 4 trees each. I won't be able to definitively say exactly what and why, but I'll be able to say "This is how I did it." (or I'll fail and no knees will form or many trees die. It's going to be exciting!) I'll publish my results (to BonsaiNut and YouTube, of course) in about 10 years. :rolleyes:
BillsBayou, have you met my friend @Osoyoung?

@Osoyoung, meet BillsBayou.

I think you two will get along just fine!
 

just.wing.it

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#5
Bill!

All I can say is I'm glad you're here and keep up the good work!
I have one BC (a real one ;)) and it's still in a nursery bucket, with black muck for substrate...
I grew it last summer in a tub of water and it thrived.
I plan to repot it for the first time this spring.
I was planning on a full bare rooting and significant reduction of the rootmass, then into some better soil mix.
I was also considering chopping the trunk at the same time....:eek:
Is that a bad idea, with BC?
 

Vin

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#6
Bill!

All I can say is I'm glad you're here and keep up the good work!
I have one BC (a real one ;)) and it's still in a nursery bucket, with black muck for substrate...
I grew it last summer in a tub of water and it thrived.
I plan to repot it for the first time this spring.
I was planning on a full bare rooting and significant reduction of the rootmass, then into some better soil mix.
I was also considering chopping the trunk at the same time....:eek:
Is that a bad idea, with BC?
It hasn't been a bad idea for any of mine.
 
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#7
Bill!

All I can say is I'm glad you're here and keep up the good work!
I have one BC (a real one ;)) and it's still in a nursery bucket, with black muck for substrate...
I grew it last summer in a tub of water and it thrived.
I plan to repot it for the first time this spring.
I was planning on a full bare rooting and significant reduction of the rootmass, then into some better soil mix.
I was also considering chopping the trunk at the same time....:eek:
Is that a bad idea, with BC?
If you dug and potted it last year, wait one more year or you'll over-stress the tree two years in a row.
If not, then, where are you? (I'm on my mobile) for a tree established in a nursery container, I would chop both roots and trunk now. The vascular system is still holding it's sugars.

I would only chop a trunk on a potted tree if I already have a branch that will be the new apex.
 

just.wing.it

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#11
If you dug and potted it last year, wait one more year or you'll over-stress the tree two years in a row.
If not, then, where are you? (I'm on my mobile) for a tree established in a nursery container, I would chop both roots and trunk now. The vascular system is still holding it's sugars.

I would only chop a trunk on a potted tree if I already have a branch that will be the new apex.
It is an established nursery tree...
I obtained it in early summer last year, it grew like mad once I got it!
I think it should be plenty ready for the work.

I'm in Maryland.
So I'll probably wait a little longer than "right now" ;).

Thank you so much!
 

just.wing.it

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#12
Also, Bill...
My BC is not necessarily ready for a final chopping, but it's over 8 feet tall, and I want to just shorten it to make it more manageable while repotting.

So that is my reason for this coming chop.

I do want to develop some more girth at the base before I really get started....
At this point the base of the trunk is about like a beer can, maybe slightly less.
It also has already been chopped and fully healed over before, so this chop will be higher up.
 
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#13
Also, Bill...
My BC is not necessarily ready for a final chopping, but it's over 8 feet tall, and I want to just shorten it to make it more manageable while repotting.

So that is my reason for this coming chop.

I do want to develop some more girth at the base before I really get started....
At this point the base of the trunk is about like a beer can, maybe slightly less.
It also has already been chopped and fully healed over before, so this chop will be higher up.
Then, you're on track. Cut several inches above where you think is the ideal height for a new apex. That will give you a better chance to get multiple candidates.

You will also want to get it into a wider, but not deeper, pot. I'll bet you already have roots that turn down too quickly, or they turn horizontally. You want to encourage better nebari.
 

0soyoung

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#14
Third: Knees do not exist for gas exchange (as stated in the video). Lenticels do not appear in the developing bark tissue of knees. Their may be some gas exchange, but not enough to say that is their function.
Agree, but this
"...we conclude that storage of starch is the major function of baldcypress [sic] knees."
[emphasis, mine] Brown, Montz "Baldcypress / The Tree Unique, The Wood Eternal" 1986 - Claitor's Publishing Division

Think of it as a stem potato (like a yam), but on a tree.
No.
An ethylene precursor gets converted to ethylene by an enzyme in aerated tissues. Ethylene causes enhanced lateral growth. Knees are reaction wood (at high points on the roots), just as are buttresses.
See
The relationship of bald cypress [Taxodium distichum (L.) Richard] knee height to water depth
JL Kernell, GF Levy - Castanea, 1990
and
Variation in Buttressing Form and Stem Volume Ratio of Baldcypress Trees
for example.

@Mellow Mullet and his father have been growing bald cypress and producing knees in pots for many years. The simply submerge the pot in a tub of water that is filled with water and then allowed to evaporate, refilling when most/all of the water has evaporated.

But, at any rate, glad you read scholarly papers too, @BillsBayou !
 
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Agree, but this

No.
An ethylene precursor gets converted to ethylene by an enzyme in aerated tissues. Ethylene causes enhanced lateral growth. Knees are reaction wood (at high points on the roots), just as are buttresses.
See
The relationship of bald cypress [Taxodium distichum (L.) Richard] knee height to water depth
JL Kernell, GF Levy - Castanea, 1990
and
Variation in Buttressing Form and Stem Volume Ratio of Baldcypress Trees
for example.

@Mellow Mullet and his father have been growing bald cypress and producing knees in pots for many years. The simply submerge the pot in a tub of water that is filled with water and then allowed to evaporate, refilling when most/all of the water has evaporated.

But, at any rate, glad you read scholarly papers too, @BillsBayou !
I love Jstor. I already have the first article. I'll have to get the second one.

I know about the correlations and ratios the effects of periodic vs constant flooding and overly deep water. I'm looking into the why. Why of oxygen transport, and why of knees. Height is only a curiosity to me.

I'm not a botanist much less a dendrologist. My degrees are in Computer Science and Business. I'm chasing down clues, raiding Jstor, and learning as I go. I've run my ideas and research by a professor of botany. He thinks the ideas I have for producing knees, beyond periodic flooding, have sound science behind them.

I'll always been eager to be proven wrong. It means I'm learning.

The clues I followed lead me to a likely cause of what goes on to cause knees to grow, and it fits with the research that shows that knees are for starch storage. I'll never be able to properly prove it, but I'll test for pointers to the proof.

I also stand by my statements about oxygen transportation and how knees are not involved.
 
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#20
I have had my doubts about Ryan's understanding of Bald Cypress. He's great with western species, not so much with eastern...
I should have stressed that I respect Ryan. I've met him a few times. He's very easy going and good to talk to. I'm learning constantly when I watch his videos and live feeds. The Tier 3 membership is certainly worth the cost.

Here in the South, we're constantly amused by people coming here and just not getting us. We have our own culture. We live in a different environment. The more localized you get, the worse it gets. New Orleanians aren't really "Southerners". We're a Creole city. We're Cajuns. We're Swampers.

When we watch a national TV show try to recreate what they found in New Orleans, it's a cross between laughter and pity. For example: Disney put out a video on how to make New Orleans gumbo. I don't know what shit it was they were stirring in the end, but it wasn't gumbo. Quinoa instead of RICE? Idiots.

When I see someone from the Pacific Northwest, who is 1700 miles from the nearest bald cypress, giving out information on bald cypress, I just knew it was going to be an entertaining video. I wasn't disappointed.
StHelensToBaldCypress.jpg

The more generalized information about styling the tree is certainly on point. I have a problem when it comes to the science. I'm not a scientist, but I do try to read up on the science of bald cypress as much as I can and see how it all fits with the trees that surround our cities. There are very good photographs of wonderful bald cypress in books and on the Internet. I get to look at the ugly ones that do not get photographed. The ancient survivors of everything Mother Nature can throw at them in the South. It's nice to look at a well-defined flat-top, but it's better when you can compare it to a poorly defined one. It gives us the chance to spot the flaws, to break down flat tops into just what it is we appreciate.

Ryan mentions four people who were instrumental in developing the flat top style: Vaughn Banting, Dave Degroot, Guy Guidry, and Gary Marchal. They were all in the Greater New Orleans Bonsai Society. I've been to three of their homes. Gary took me on my first swamp dig and I still have the tree I dug. Vaughn sat me down in his home office and explained the physiology that creates the flat top. Guy's nursery was a fantastic resource for inspiration and knowledge. And it's Vaughn's fault that when Dave is giving a demonstration, that he looks at me to make sure I'm not about to snap a pencil while he bends a branch. That's my pedigree. The education I received from these four and many others in the club has shaped my appreciation and obsession of bald cypress. These men, and women as well, have helped me develop an eye for bald cypress bonsai. Vaughn and Gary have passed and were a great loss. Dave no longer lives in New Orleans, but I'll see him next week, so that's going to be great. And Guy had to sell off his nursery during a bitter divorce. But we still have great minds shaping bonsai in New Orleans and across the Gulf South.