Damage to the trunk of my Japanese Maple

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#1
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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#2
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.
 
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West Michigan. 6a
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#4
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.
 
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#5
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.
 

LanceMac10

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#7
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?
 

Eric Group

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#9
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.
 

rockm

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#10
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.
 
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Location
Hickory Hills, IL.
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#11
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?
 

Brian Van Fleet

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#12
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?
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.
 

Nybonsai12

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#13
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.
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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Australia
#16
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.
 

rockm

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#17
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.
Didn't see any harsh comments. Saw straightforward advice on some things the tree would benefit from.
 
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Wyomissing, PA
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#18
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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#19
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!
 

LanceMac10

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#20
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.;):):)