Help me decide which trees I should collect!

jbogard

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Looking forward to collecting a few trees this spring! As I am new to bonsai I figured I’d get some input on which ones are worth collecting and which ones are probably not worth the trouble.
1• Buckley oak (Quercus buckleyii)
2• Rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum)
3• Gum bumelia (Sideroxylon languinosum)
4• Ashe juniper
5• Cedar elm
6 • Buckley oak (Quercus buckleyii)
7, 8, 10 Southern Hackberry (Celtis larvigata)
9 • Buckley oak (Quercus buckleyii)
 

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jbogard

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White shin oak
Texas redbud
Buckley oak
White shin oak
Sumac of some sort
Cedar elm
Hackberry
 

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bonsaidave

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Oaks like to send deep tap roots sometimes. Be prepared to not dig them if you find no feeder roots close to the surface. I passed on a real nice one last year. I dug over a foot down on all sides and not a single feeder or small root found. Just a never ending tap root.

Elms are easy, they should backbud or at least grow from wherever you chop the trunk down to. Hackberry are pretty tough to kill too and would be good to try. I have dug several without issue.

That juniper looks kind of interesting. If you have not collected material before you should read up on digging up and after care. If you have continued access to the area you can leave some for next year.
 

rockm

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Um, have you collected before? Just asking because you've got a very wide selection of species and not all are easy to get out alive.

I would leave the oaks and ashe juniper - both aren't easy to get out. I would dig all the cedar elm, rusty blackhaw (not all that easy, but doable),and the hackberries.
 

Cofga

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What rockm said. If this is your first experience learn with the easy stuff and remember that aftercare is the crucial part of collecting. Go in prepared with the right tools and get them into the proper soil ASAP. Buld your wooden boxes beforehand if you plan to use them. Don’t let the roots dry out—field wrap with plastic cling wrap. Do as much research up front on how to handle the trees as far as bare rooting them vs just chopping them off and growing new roots. Visit bonsaisouth.com for Zach Smith’s take on collecting trees. Also chop the top to a reasonable length, which will probably be a lot shorter than you are invisioning now. Good luck.
 

Zach Smith

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What rockm said. If this is your first experience learn with the easy stuff and remember that aftercare is the crucial part of collecting. Go in prepared with the right tools and get them into the proper soil ASAP. Buld your wooden boxes beforehand if you plan to use them. Don’t let the roots dry out—field wrap with plastic cling wrap. Do as much research up front on how to handle the trees as far as bare rooting them vs just chopping them off and growing new roots. Visit bonsaisouth.com for Zach Smith’s take on collecting trees. Also chop the top to a reasonable length, which will probably be a lot shorter than you are invisioning now. Good luck.
Bonsai-south.com. just to be accurate.

The Rusty Blackhawk is a neat species. I had some about 30 years ago. Beautiful bark and foliage, and they take well to pot culture.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Mark, @rockm and Zack are on target. The redbud is known to be a species that is ''iffy'' as bonsai, leaves don't reduce well. You might skip that. The sumac picture doesn't look like any of the sumac I know, but I am 800 miles north of you. I would also skip the sumac. I do have sumac in a pot, but it is being grown more as an accent plant, as the autumn colors are spectacular. I never expect my sumac to really be ''tree-like''.

As to collecting oaks, Mark and the others are right, they are a difficult subject to learn and have success with. I suggest you collect a few, expecting them to fail, see if you can figure it out. Save the better, more interesting trunks until you figure out how to keep the more boring oaks alive through the collection process. It takes 2 years to be certain your collection was successful. It is not until the end of the second growing season that you can say you are ''out of the woods''. Keep notes, timing for your area is critical for collection success with oaks.

The Viburnum sounds interesting, not a species I am familiar with. Go for it.

All the trunks you showed have at least some interesting bends, turns or bark or all three in the first few inches. This is good. You have a better than average eye for someone new to collecting.
 

TN_Jim

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This fella has some really thorough videos with good practices on collecting that have helped me -highly recommend.

In this one he collects a Viburnum.
 

jbogard

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This fella has some really thorough videos with good practices on collecting that have helped me -highly recommend.

In this one he collects a Viburnum.
His vid actually urged me to look at the viburnum as a possible bonsai species!
 

jbogard

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This fella has some really thorough videos with good practices on collecting that have helped me -highly recommend.

In this one he collects a Viburnum.
His vid actually urged me to look at the viburnum as a possible bonsai species!
 

jbogard

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Bonsai-south.com. just to be accurate.

The Rusty Blackhawk is a neat species. I had some about 30 years ago. Beautiful bark and foliage, and they take well to pot culture.
Did they not ramify well enough for you to continue working with them? Just curious why you don’t keep them anymore.
 

jbogard

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Um, have you collected before? Just asking because you've got a very wide selection of species and not all are easy to get out alive.

I would leave the oaks and ashe juniper - both aren't easy to get out. I would dig all the cedar elm, rusty blackhaw (not all that easy, but doable),and the hackberries.
I verified that the oaks have radial roots at a collectible depth so I think I’ll collect a couple and see how they do. The Ashe juniper is gonna be bulldozed if I don’t take it so I figure may as well give it a go
 

Zach Smith

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Did they not ramify well enough for you to continue working with them? Just curious why you don’t keep them anymore.
They ramify well enough for bonsai, with good leaf reduction. I don't work with them anymore because I have not run across any more to collect in my area. I did some propagation back in the day, but life turmoil and a move left me with no more of them.
 

rockm

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My advice stands.

If you have not collected before watching a video on how to do it doesn't give you experience. Cedar elm and hackberry are you best bets for initial success. Digging all kinds of trees all at once is not a great way to get bonsai.

Patience is not only a virtue in bonsai, it is a tool. Why dig trees with potential (and there are a few with great potential in the photos) only to have them die off because you rushed it?

The guy in the vid has decent techniques, but each tree is different. The trees you've pictured, with the exception of the cedar elms and hackberries, will probably have some issues with drastic root reduction. I've collected blackhaw. Bigger that the one in vid. I collected my initial trees in the same manner a very long time ago. They lived for a year, but sulked and finally died off. My inexperience played a big role in that. I collected ALL of them in my area (they're not all that common--it was about five trees), now there are none--all because I got greedy and didn't take the time to learn what works and what doesn't.

and BTW - "Verifying" radial roots at a collectible depth is interesting... Might be so, but it's the underneath part of the tree that is the biggest concern. In my experience digging oaks in Texas, most have SUBSTANTIAL tap roots that many species object horribly to having severed all at once--or at all--good luck. This white oak in my parent's place in Tyler has a great trunk. It is also rooted to Beijing on the other side of the planet.
drivewayoak.jpg
 

eryk2kartman

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Maybe stupid question but would not be good idea to trunk chop the ones that not going to be collected this year?
As the roots are still in the ground would that not helped with recovery? They going to be trunk chopped anyway when collecting so why not to do it year or 2 earlier ?
 

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