Hornbeam Scouting -> collecting Spring ‘21

Brad in GR

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A friend co-owns 500+ acres for hunting with his cousins/family. I noticed hornbeam and beech when turkey hunting with him this spring (we didn’t get any!) and he offered to let me take anything I want from this lovey wooded/lowland property in SW west Michigan.

Scouting was a blast with the dogs. Hornbeam feature in multiple areas of the property. I flagged 6-7 with the waypoint feature on GAIA GPS app. Some pictures of a few of the candidates are below. I’m curious of folks thoughts on:
- which you WOULDN’T take
- which one is most intriguing

I personally like all of the below. The bark is mature and fluted/muscle-looking (as is the tendency with hornbeam) and the nebari are great starting points for future trees.

I will plan to collect a few of the ones I’ve tagged in spring 2021.

581DFC34-820B-4B3D-8B2C-D5B106ABF49E.jpeg
This first one is very intriguing, but will be more of an exposed roots version, if I keep the nebari as-is. I’m not experienced with developing an exposed root deciduous and am unsure of whether it would work visually and functionally. But I love this base.

8B1B45B5-6821-4962-8FC7-2F1262361210.jpeg
Opposite side of the same tree.

4E04CD33-B9FA-49EB-BD95-9BA6B9451025.jpeg
Love this one. Would remove all but the main trunk and chop low at an angle to use the movement and make a move off to the right initially.

BC128D8F-1C5E-4537-BEA3-2D1A13A86607.jpeg
A bit more mundane of a base, but I like this one as well.


Appreciate any thoughts as always. Excited to have access to some of these. All have fine roots that are on the surface when removing leaves 👌
 

Brad in GR

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I like the ones you could develop as a raft or clump. The last one doesn't do much for me. No taper in the lower trunk. Good luck!
Thanks @BrianBay9 - interesting idea with the clump. I might have a hard time with scale between the trunks/which ones to keep. But I like the idea...
 

Brad in GR

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And I do agree re: the last one's taper! Thanks for the helpful eye.
 

Kanorin

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I know very little about collecting, but I like the first two quite a bit. I'd be tempted to turn the second one into either a twin-trunk or clump style tree (as someone else mentioned).

If you plan to go back to this property again in Spring 2022, you could chop that third tree low and leave it in place for another year. Then see if anything interesting comes out of it the following year. But I'd probably dig a little more to get a better view of the nebari first.
 

TN_Jim

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I’d get em’ both in very late winter, there’s more out there I bet, wouldn’t discount the smaller (thumb width) trunks. My daughter recently asked me the hard question - what’s your favorite tree and I said probably American Hornbeam.

I’d chop just slightly above where you want the first branch to be, seal the daylights out of it, and put that branch (side of trunk) in the morning sun. Then (in almost spring) almost bare root and put into a 15 gallon pot of 1:3 sifted bark : pumice/napa....doing that I have gotten 5-6’ growth in a year with feeding consistently growing out leaders.

Owe world of thanks to folks here, good hunting

 

TN_Jim

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I’d get em’ both in very late winter, there’s more out there I bet, wouldn’t discount the smaller (thumb width) trunks. My daughter recently asked me the hard question - what’s your favorite tree and I said probably American Hornbeam.

I’d chop just slightly above where you want the first branch to be, where taper ends, seal the daylights out of it, and put that branch (side of trunk) in the morning sun. Then (in almost spring) almost bare root and put into a 15 gallon pot of 1:3 sifted bark : pumice/napa....doing that I have gotten 5-6’ growth in a year with feeding consistently growing out leaders.

Owe world of thanks to folks here, good hunting

 

Brad in GR

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I’d get em’ both in very late winter, there’s more out there I bet, wouldn’t discount the smaller (thumb width) trunks. My daughter recently asked me the hard question - what’s your favorite tree and I said probably American Hornbeam.

I’d chop just slightly above where you want the first branch to be, seal the daylights out of it, and put that branch (side of trunk) in the morning sun. Then (in almost spring) almost bare root and put into a 15 gallon pot of 1:3 sifted bark : pumice/napa....doing that I have gotten 5-6’ growth in a year with feeding consistently growing out leaders.

Owe world of thanks to folks here, good hunting

Jim, there are SO many out there. 500 acres, and I bet 200 of those acres have many hornbeam. I really like your idea about not just going for the big ones; the muscle features and buttressing of the base seem to still exist on some of the smaller ones as well. My friend and his cousins said to feel free and take as many as I'd like (I'd be happy with 4-5 successful collections!). They continue to purchase parcels adjacent to this almost entire county block that they own. I'm lucky none of them are bonsai-obsessed.

@TN_Jim - curious what percentage of the time you do "pre root work" - I've dug trenches around root balls, to encourage fine roots, and returned a year later to collect, once or twice in my 4 years... I see varying opinions on whether this is worthwhile. The trees I saw here had very fine roots showing along the surface when I move some of the soil. 90% of my collections have been "just go for it" once I see fine roots and consider the tree healthy, versus the 'trench and come back in a year' method.

Thanks for the thoughts on substrate and timing, that aligns with my plans as well. Thanks for the link to the thread as well!
 

BobbyLane

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i wouldnt do what you suggested, this will make a great clump with the thick trunk as the main leader. you only have to look at Walters hornbeam clumps to get an idea. so you have everything in place to do that here, it took a while for those other trunks to grow why waste that.
you can do what you suggested on another one, there should be loads more with bases like this, hornbeams produce muscular fluted trunks naturally
 

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Brad in GR

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i wouldnt do what you suggested, this will make a great clump with the thick trunk as the main leader. you only have to look at Walters hornbeam clumps to get an idea. so you have everything in place to do that here, it took a while for those other trunks to grow why waste that.
you can do what you suggested on another one, there should be loads more with bases like this, hornbeams produce muscular fluted trunks naturally

Appreciate this, opening my mind to clump! Off to search for Walter hornbeam clumps. Being still early in my journey means clumps, twin trunks etc are a bit difficult for me to visualize.

Seems that half of the hornbeams I saw had auxiliary trunks growing low - on other trees I would see this as suckers and potentially a sign of weakness, but not the case with these trees. 🤔
 

BobbyLane

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yeh i dont think the lower trunk is that impressive if you chop everything off to make a stand alone tree, the nebari is good yeh but from there up its basic. the shorter route to a better tree is clump for me. then just a matter of seeing how many to keep. you can either try to create taper in the main trunk or have it break into a V.
 
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Brad in GR

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yeh i dont think the lower trunk is that impressive if you chop everything off to make a stand alone tree, the nebari is good yeh but from there up its basic. the shorter route to a better tree is clump for me. then just a matter of seeing how many to keep. you can either try to create taper in the main trunk or have it break into a V.

Makes sense - was looking at removing the far right one, but keeping the rest. Is inverse taper sort of “excused” on a clump style, at least down low?

And by “V” you’re referring to a V cut on that main trunk? Intriguing.
 

BobbyLane

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again, i dont know anyone else who has as much hornbeam material as WP and the guys in Eastern europe, i would be looking that way for ideas.
 

Ohmy222

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I would look for smaller material or something with taper. Very hard to convincingly close big wounds on hornbeam. Also, make certain to plan on a lot of dieback on chops so chop higher than you think. I try not to make any chops over 2". Double/triple trunks are also always preferable to me. They do survive pretty aggressive cut backs. Trust me I started with a few big ones like you have and found the only real thing you can do is carve it out severely (which I don't like) or a broom style. Now I prefer smaller ones so I can get a cleaner transition.
 

CWTurner

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Ive had super bad luck collecting these from N. PA.

Do a search on collecting these, there is good info here, and they get treated differently from other deciduous trees.

Best of luck
CW
 
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Really love the rooting on the first one, and I think a clump style would really suit that second one! It seems like it would take quite some time for the thinner trunks to catch up a little so there isn't as much contrast in size, but I know nothing about that. I'm hoping to get out and scout for some hornbeams in Southwest Michigan as well, happy to see they're around!
 

Brad in GR

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I would look for smaller material or something with taper. Very hard to convincingly close big wounds on hornbeam. Also, make certain to plan on a lot of dieback on chops so chop higher than you think. I try not to make any chops over 2". Double/triple trunks are also always preferable to me. They do survive pretty aggressive cut backs. Trust me I started with a few big ones like you have and found the only real thing you can do is carve it out severely (which I don't like) or a broom style. Now I prefer smaller ones so I can get a cleaner transition.
I'm willing to play the long game with further ground growing if necessary for some of the large material. But I will take this advice to heart and try for some smaller material as part of the 3-4 I collect next spring. Thanks.
 

Brad in GR

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Really love the rooting on the first one, and I think a clump style would really suit that second one! It seems like it would take quite some time for the thinner trunks to catch up a little so there isn't as much contrast in size, but I know nothing about that. I'm hoping to get out and scout for some hornbeams in Southwest Michigan as well, happy to see they're around!
Get out there! Nice time to identify them right now - though the bark is obvious... their leaves are a pleasant orange-ish yellow...
 

Brad in GR

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again, i dont know anyone else who has as much hornbeam material as WP and the guys in Eastern europe, i would be looking that way for ideas.
Would love for Mr. @Walter Pall to weigh in, though I am skimming through his blog and videos again this week and will once or twice more prior to collecting some of these next season.
 

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