First time Yamadori hunter with some questions....

Redwood Ryan

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Hey everyone. I own lots of bonsai but have never considered getting any of them from the wild, until I found these. Back in the woods behind my house I found a few good looking trees (to my eyes of course). I think they may be oaks, but not so sure as they are dormant. The beavers have chopped all of them for me. Now, being a beginner with collecting wild trees, when is the best time to do this? Would now be the time? Would it even be possible to dig up oak trees since they have the long taproots (again, I am unsure if thats what these are)? And, do these trees even look like they would be good candidates for bonsai? Oh, and I know about the laws against collecting without permission, but I've got permision. Anyway, here are the trees:

Tree #1:


Tree #2:



Tree #3:


BTW, the trees are about 1.5 feet tall and have some nice thick trunks.

Thanks all!

Ryan
 

Tachigi

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Ryan, my 2 cents. If your unsure about about what species or cultivar these trees are then why dig them? If they are indeed oaks then you need to find out which type it is...not all oaks make good bonsai material.

If you want to dig for the sake of digging and the experience then dig just one and perhaps one day it will make a bonsai or be a wonderful landscape plant years down the road. When collecting yamadori its the hunt that is the thrill. To be very honest these two trees are a bit nondescript. I think you should take a walk this weekend and eyeball trees that might be better suited for bonsai. The hunt you may find is more exhilerating than the actual collection.

In your/our area there are great areas to collect or even just walk to scope out worthy material with in a 50 mile radius.
 

Redwood Ryan

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Thanks for the quick and helpful answer! I may end up digging one up, just to experiment. I also am going to take a walk around more of the woods and see if I can find anything better. Spring is a better time for this right?
 

Tachigi

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Ryan, deciduous trees can be collected now as long as you can keep them protected 32 to 40 degrees F. I have collected Hornbeam, J Maples, Wisteria, and Willow Oak from mid January on for the past decade. All collections had positive results and were actually easier to collect with a frozen root ball a great thing in sandy loose soil
 

grouper52

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Judging from the surrounding leaves on the ground, the area supports oaks from both the white and black families.

White oaks apparently make horrible bonsai - not just the tap root/transplant problem, but the leaves tend to ENLARGE in response to reduction techniques! Black oaks are just a tad less problematic, but not much.

Among American oaks, the live oaks are the only ones I know of that can make great bonsai. I don't recall them at all in Virginia when I lived in the mountains near Lexington there, but there may be some varieties over in the coastal plains. They are certainly prevalent further down into the deep South, and some great bonsai varities also grow in California.

But the black, and especially the white, varieties should generally be avoided.
 

chansen

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Hey everyone. I own lots of bonsai but have never considered getting any of them from the wild, until I found these. Back in the woods behind my house I found a few good looking trees (to my eyes of course). I think they may be oaks, but not so sure as they are dormant. The beavers have chopped all of them for me. Now, being a beginner with collecting wild trees, when is the best time to do this? Would now be the time? Would it even be possible to dig up oak trees since they have the long taproots (again, I am unsure if thats what these are)? And, do these trees even look like they would be good candidates for bonsai? Oh, and I know about the laws against collecting without permission, but I've got permision. Anyway, here are the trees:


BTW, the trees are about 1.5 feet tall and have some nice thick trunks.

Thanks all!

Ryan

Is there any chance you can get a closer shot of the second one? The bark looks gray and smooth, which may be American hornbeam. The do pretty well as larger trees; the leaves tend to not reduce as well as other hornbeam varieties. They're also pretty easy to collect.
 

Redwood Ryan

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Sure I can. I'll do that later! Thanks!
 

rockm

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I don't think those are oaks. One might be pepperridge (tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica). Second one is definitely not hornbeam. Hornbeam bark is blueish grey and very smooth. IDing trees from bark is a very iffy proposition, since bark growth is influenced by local conditions and varying local gene pools. Can't tell for certain what they are until leaves emerge.

If I were you, I would collect only one, the one that's doesn't have the best root flare. Leave the rest alone until you have more experience.

I would wait until early March to do so. Even though it's possible to do it now, you'd have to shelter the trees in a frost free place until nighttime temps are reliably above freezing. It's a hassle, but a recently collected tree is easily killed by a hard freeze.

For what it's worth, oaks other than live oak can make excellent bonsai. Species like willow oak (quercus phellos), pin oak (quercus palustrus) and even white oak (quercus alba) have all been used to make bonsai. Willow and pin seem to be easier to adapt though, since they tend to have shallower root systems.

Good luck with your collecting. Don't get too attached to your first collected trees, though. :D:D
 

chansen

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I don't think those are oaks. One might be pepperridge (tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica). Second one is definitely not hornbeam. Hornbeam bark is blueish grey and very smooth. IDing trees from bark is a very iffy proposition, since bark growth is influenced by local conditions and varying local gene pools. Can't tell for certain what they are until leaves emerge.

If I were you, I would collect only one, the one that's doesn't have the best root flare. Leave the rest alone until you have more experience.

I would wait until early March to do so. Even though it's possible to do it now, you'd have to shelter the trees in a frost free place until nighttime temps are reliably above freezing. It's a hassle, but a recently collected tree is easily killed by a hard freeze.

For what it's worth, oaks other than live oak can make excellent bonsai. Species like willow oak (quercus phellos), pin oak (quercus palustrus) and even white oak (quercus alba) have all been used to make bonsai. Willow and pin seem to be easier to adapt though, since they tend to have shallower root systems.

Good luck with your collecting. Don't get too attached to your first collected trees, though. :D:D

You're probably right on tree #2. I was only looking at the first of the two pictures of the tree. Once I saw the second, I realized that I was probably wrong.

Ryan -

I have followed rockm's advice for collecting in the past with good results. He's got a lot of collecting experience in that geographic region, so I'd stick with his advice.

Happy hunting!
 

grouper52

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rockm, I'm a bit curious about your statement about the white and pin (a black) oaks making good bonsai. They are plentiful as collectible material in your area - do you have any of your own that you could post as examples?

My own venture with a white oak - grown from seed in a nursery pot, thus bypassing the tap root problem - met with the reduction problem I had heard about. I was going to try to graft a better variety onto it, but never bothered.

I agree about the willow oak, but then I typically think of them being in the live oak family.
 

rockm

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Grouper,

I haven't got either white oak or pin oak in my collection. I have seen both, however, in other people's collections in the area. One particular 100 year old pin oak bonsai I know of was dug out of an old West Virginia mining site. It was growing on an old mine tilling pile and had developed an extremely shallow root system allowing easy collection. It made pretty good bonsai, although it tended to be a little leggy.

There was quite an impressive white oak bonsai pictured over on bonsai study Group in this thread:
http://bonsaistudygroup.com/general-discussion/old-old-oak/

White oaks are not easy bonsai material. I don't think the tap root is that big of an issue if the tree is collected over time.

I do have live oak though, which has spurred me to start looking for more oak species to collect. Hopefully, I will have a willow oak this spring. There are dozens in the woods right behind my house.:D
 

Redwood Ryan

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Thanks for your help everyone! I'll go out and take more pictures today of the bark, in hopes it makes it easier to identify the trees.
 

Redwood Ryan

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I completely forgot about this thread. But I've decided upon going out tomorrow to gather one of them. They look different than before. I definitely do not believe they are oaks however. I saw that they had grown more branches, but when I broke the top ones off to try to find green, they were hollow. I am unsure if it's a good sign or not, but we'll see. If I were to dig that last tree, with no branches, how would I encourage branches on it instead of it just being a bare pole? Thank you all!


Ryan
 

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