Damage to the trunk of my Japanese Maple

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by miker, Jun 17, 2017.

  1. miker

    miker Shohin

    Messages:
    404
    Location:
    Wyomissing, PA
    I was trimming the new growth of my large Japanese maple last night when I came across the below pictured damage to the bark/trunk. See third photo. I am pretty pissed off as I have no idea as to the cause or what I could do to prevent this sort of injury in the future.

    It is discouraging from a bonsai enthusiast's prospective that years and years of meticulous work could be spent to grow high quality nebari, scar free trunks and quality branching structure only to have it randomly damaged and decreased in quality like this. I have only had this particular tree for 10 months, but this thought about keeping quality bonsai in the future remains.

    Btw, I am going to be removing the funky wire soon!

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    20170617_171626.jpg
     
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  3. miker

    miker Shohin

    Messages:
    404
    Location:
    Wyomissing, PA
    My favorite tree is my trident maple, which has a dedicated thread keeping track of its development here on bn. Due to its small size, if it ever incurred an injury this large to the trunk, I would probably just give up on making it a decent tree and just keep it for practice. Thus, would like to minimize the chances of this happening again to any of my trees.
     
  4. Victorim

    Victorim Shohin

    Messages:
    373
    Location:
    Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK
    Hi Miker,

    I`m sure it will heal mate, and even add character.. weathered interest into the design.. but I have to say your wiring is looking a bit off target in the second photo.. is there a reason for this?
     
  5. Tieball

    Tieball Omono

    Messages:
    1,024
    Location:
    West Michigan USA
    Ouch! My first glance figured it was birds pecking at the trunk for insects. I have these smaller, gray color, friendly birds around me. They peck at tree bark for insects. It can look like chainsaw shavings around a tree trunk after awhile. The birds sort of ignore me until I get about three feet away from them. I usually only see them around dead wood though...I have old cut down trees as fence posts.....your trees not dead. I think the damage may be chipmunks or squirrels. Rabbits munch like that too. Time for creative carving....or time to seal the cut.

    That's some wiring.....I thought you had springs on the branches.
     
  6. miker

    miker Shohin

    Messages:
    404
    Location:
    Wyomissing, PA
    Greetings from muggy SE PA,

    I did that wiring on a whim last fall in a desparate attempt to get an initial bit of movement in some of the main branches but made the coils extremely close to compensate for the thin gauge wire I had on hand. It helped slightly, but I know is far from how wiring should be done.

    As for the injury, I am just going to let it heal naturally (no wound sealant or carving) so hopefully it heals over flatly and does not happen again. Otherwise, I could end up with a pretty gnarly, rough looking trunk and nebari in the distant future.
     
  7. dirk hoorelbeke

    dirk hoorelbeke Chumono

    Messages:
    938
    Location:
    Belgium
    If you want to close it fast, you would better protect it. Keep the wound moist will provide fast healing. Some do apply some pressure be wrapping things up (saran wrap).
     
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  8. LanceMac10

    LanceMac10 Masterpiece

    Messages:
    3,140
    Location:
    Nashua, NH U.S.A.
    Absolutely clean and seal that damage. Looks low on the trunk, close to the soil line. If you use organic fert, you most likely will have some little critters loitering around. That cut is a nice little opening to get into/colonize. Moisture will probably pool there as well, rot and fungus surely will follow.

    It's already shaped nicely, (sideways "eye"), just clean it up a bit with a sharp knife while keeping that eye shape. This shape will give you a cleaner/quicker healed scar.
    I've seen someone like @Smoke put screen around the entire trunk of some of his trees, maybe try something similar?
     
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  9. Dav4

    Dav4 Imperial Masterpiece

    Yep, clean the wound up, removing any loose bark, then seal. Also, look into root grafting next spring as your nebari would benefit from it.
     
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  10. Eric Group

    Eric Group Masterpiece

    Messages:
    4,331
    Location:
    Columbia, SC
    Squirrels. I am about 95% sure- they like to get at the sap under the bark...

    As for the wiring job, remove it now, please. You are running a serious damage risk to those branches- as they grow the wire bites in, but the way that is coiled, you leave nowhere for the bark to grow. If it was done last Fall you may already have serious reverse taper beginning on those and that will never go away. Beyond that, the tighter you coil your wire the LESS it aids in bending the branches. Just get some better/bigger wire man... Styling a tree, especially a fairly nice one, should not be done "on a whim".. If this is some cutting grown little start and you want to experiment, go for it! On a decent tree with some actual age and value there is a lot more to risk- beyond that, implementing these poor techniques is reinforcing bad styling habits. Practice sound techniques and you will make better trees as you get more experience.
     
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  11. rockm

    rockm Imperial Masterpiece

    Messages:
    6,478
    Location:
    Fairfax Va.
    Chipmunks are a more likely candidate. The damage is very low on the trunk for a squirrel. The east coast has had a bumper crop of chipmunks this year because of a "mast year" for the native oaks. A mast year is when the oaks put out a buttload of acorns, which produces a buttload of rodents that eat them, as well as a buttload of ticks.

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/...led-to-an-unusual-number-of-ticks-this-summer

    I've been battling chipmunks for the last two years that have take a liking to just about every maple I have. Bite marks like this are common as they like the sap.

    Can't discourage the damn things. They live in the hollows of the cinder blocks supporting the benching, which protects them from the local cats and foxes.

    Pray you see a black snake around. A five foot one took care of my chipmunks last year. I'm hoping the snake returns soon.

    As for the tree, you gotta work on the nebari. Shorten that long surface root at next repotting and work to push the roots back towards the trunk.
     
  12. BeebsBonsai

    BeebsBonsai Mame

    Messages:
    177
    Location:
    Hickory Hills, IL.
    I have never seen wire that closely coiled before. I can't imagine it has any utility, and even if so that looks dangerous. I don't even know how you will cut it off to be honest. Up your size and use copper. It'll give you more strength and ability to bend. In addition, you might consider a branch bender for those if you are having trouble moving them. How close to the crotch can you go with a branch bender? Anyone have practical advice on where he could use a branch bender on these? Seems like his best chance to bring movement into the tree.

    BTW that is a great-looking tree and the feature in the nebari is sweet. I don't know if I have ever seen a trident with a hollow through the bottom. Or is that the picture playing tricks on my eyes?
     
  13. Brian Van Fleet

    Brian Van Fleet Imperial Masterpiece

    Messages:
    7,854
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    Improper wiring technique, acknowledged in the OP.
    You can unwind wire; cut off long pieces as you go.
    Don't use copper on maples unless you are skilled.
    Branch benders are a scam. Never buy or use one.
    The nebari is rather flawed by traditional standards.
    This is not a trident maple, it is a Japanese Maple.
     
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  14. Nybonsai12

    Nybonsai12 Masterpiece

    Messages:
    2,354
    Location:
    NY
    ah, good info. I was wondering why there were so many chipmunks this year. Little bastards are everywhere in my yard and have damaged a number of trees i have in the ground. between them and/or squirrels they have chewed new growth off of several apricots and maples that should have extensions of several feet by now. And then i find holes in the ground. I've surely been feeling like bill murray in caddyshack with the rodents this year.
     
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  15. Giga

    Giga Masterpiece

    Messages:
    2,929
    Location:
    Virginia beach, VA
    is it me or does it look like that area of the trunk is dead and the bark is coming loose as that area is dead underneath
     
  16. Victorim

    Victorim Shohin

    Messages:
    373
    Location:
    Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK
    Looks alive to me, but could be wrong..

    @miker if your caught short on wire gauge, use 2-3 lengths in parallel, still keeping a rough 45°.
     
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  17. 63pmp

    63pmp Mame

    Messages:
    154
    Location:
    Australia
    The bark has lifted from the cambium on left side of the wound. If the trunk was sealed and wrapped this bark could have reattached to trunk making a smaller wound, but looks dry now and this bark will die back aways. Your tree
    will benefit with some root grafts. There is lots of potential here, don't be disheartened by harsh comments.
     
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  18. rockm

    rockm Imperial Masterpiece

    Messages:
    6,478
    Location:
    Fairfax Va.
    Didn't see any harsh comments. Saw straightforward advice on some things the tree would benefit from.
     
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  19. miker

    miker Shohin

    Messages:
    404
    Location:
    Wyomissing, PA
    Thank you so much for the outpouring of guidance and advice on how to best deal with this wound and on what might have caused it and how to prevent it. I might get creative with some fine mesh hardware cloth cages for around the trunks on my best trees as a repeat of this sort of damage is simply unacceptable! I ended up just sealing the wound with the Japanese cut/paste that comes in the tube, since the wound had already dried out. I figure, with time, the wound will just add a bit of character.

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    As for the crazy! wiring job, I finally removed the wiring today. I have learned both that the wiring should have been moved by late April early May, and how to properly apply wire in the future, thanks to your kind suggestions. Take a look at the odd pattern the wire left on the affected branches. This should not be much of a problem longterm, as I plan to, one branch at a time, wait for buds to pop close to the trunk, chop at these buds, then build proper taper and ramification in this manner.

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  20. miker

    miker Shohin

    Messages:
    404
    Location:
    Wyomissing, PA
    I better clean up my act with this tree going forward, or I may end up being confronted by the experts on here to turn over the tree to those with adequate skill to train a nicer bonsai such as this!
     
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  21. LanceMac10

    LanceMac10 Masterpiece

    Messages:
    3,140
    Location:
    Nashua, NH U.S.A.
    Still alive!! All that counts!:):):):)


    And I'm making these tomorrow.....o_O:p
    tato.jpg ;):D:D:D:D:D:D



    Work that wound on the trunk better. It seems strange, but I think you need really get in there and make some clean cuts, shape it and seal properly. It will look nasty but your approach is just going to ruin the best look this tree has to offer. Fix before it's too late.;):):)
     
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