Live oak skeleton

rockm

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I spent last Saturday with some friends cutting my live oak back to a basic skeleton. The tree had become a little congested with extra branching and the trunk was obscured when the tree was in leaf. We removed branches that were decades old (and too long) back to a new skeleton for future branching. The pruning was severe, but the trunk will be more visible and foilage will be tighter in the future.

The pic is bad, but you can probably make it out...
 

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live oak

very nice live oak rockm !
what are the dimensions of the tree ?
trunk thickness, height etc.
 

Brian Underwood

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Nice tree. Awesome movement and bark, also I like the little Uro in the front. Its nice to see someone take an old show tree and give it a bright new future. Is it too tall or just the pic?
 

rockm

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The tree is about 30" high, or there abouts, the nebari is 18" across, including the roots snaking along the surface on the right side. The trunk is about 8" at just above the soil line.

The photo is a bit deceptive, as the top third of the trunk leans toward the camera --bringing it about eight or nine inches closer to the front than the rest of the trunk. The trunk also moves in three dimensions, spiraling like a ram's horn which can also be lost in photos. The lack of foliage makes it look a bit lonely at this point. Once it fills in with new foliage, it won't look so lean.
 
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milehigh_7

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That is really nice! The movement is excellent!
 

rockm

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Side view shows how the trunk might be foreshortened in the first photo...
 

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IdahoDR

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Thats a great trunk. I look forward to watching what you do with it.
 

Mojosan

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That is a very nice tree, Rock. How long have you had it?
 

rockm

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I got it about ten or twelve years ago from Vito Megna in Texas--he's sorely missed as a Southern yamadori hunter.
 

Si Nguyen

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Sweet! That's a nice live oak! I got some yamadori live oaks from Central California too, but I don't know if they are the same as those from Texas. I wondered if I got my trees' species correctly. I will submit a picture later and hopefully you guys can identify mine for me.
Good luck with your tree.
Si
 

milehigh_7

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Sweet! That's a nice live oak! I got some yamadori live oaks from Central California too, but I don't know if they are the same as those from Texas. I wondered if I got my trees' species correctly. I will submit a picture later and hopefully you guys can identify mine for me.
Good luck with your tree.
Si
Hey Si, I started a thread to discuss Keying Cali Oak species. I had a document saved that might really help you id your tree.


http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?p=68691#post68691
 

rockm

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This is a subspecies of the Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) that's common in the Gulf Coast region. The upland form of live oak in Texas is Q. virginiana "Fusiformis" or quercus fusiformis. It's also called escarpment live oak. It is more winter hardy and drought tolerant than the main Virginiana species. It's also got smaller leaves and acorns as well as a tighter growth habit. It grows well up into the rangelands of Texas and down into Mexico.

California live oaks are a whole different set of species, I think.
 

jquast

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Rockm,

you have one fantastic trunk there. Do you have any before photos? From looking at the current branching structure it looks like you have followed the traditional pine rules for branch placement and angle off of the trunk than a more naturalistic oak structure. Was this by design by way of following the rules or was it what you had to work with when you acquired the tree and the reason for cutting back recently?

jeff
 

rockm

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"Do you have any before photos? From looking at the current branching structure it looks like you have followed the traditional pine rules for branch placement and angle off of the trunk than a more naturalistic oak structure."

I guess you'd have to define what a "naturalistic oak structure" is... I mean oaks vary tremendously in form--you want a southern live oak structure--short main trunk with lots of branches starting close to the ground? or a broom-ish style California oak? Neither would really work this this tree's quirky trunk--the spiral is more akin to a juniper or a pine than a "natural" oak trunk.

I haven't really followed "traditional pine rules" so much as pruned away what wasn't needed and what was in the way and worked with what the tree initially provided. All the existing branches and leader were grown from scratch from what the tree offered up in the few years after it was dug. They are where they are.

I had pursued a more "naturalistic" form with this tree when I got it, allowing the branches to spread and the top to go multi-leader like a "real" oak. Problem was the "natural" branching tended to hide the tree's primary feature (the trunk) and the multi-leader apex started to dominate the rest of the tree. Since all those leaders were drawing up most of the tree's energy, they started to push inverse taper into the supporting branch...
 

jquast

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"I guess you'd have to define what a "naturalistic oak structure" is... I mean oaks vary tremendously in form--you want a southern live oak structure--short main trunk with lots of branches starting close to the ground? or a broom-ish style California oak? Neither would really work this this tree's quirky trunk--the spiral is more akin to a juniper or a pine than a "natural" oak trunk.
Being from California we are instructed that the oaks that we have growing in our surrounding areas do not follow or fit the typical Japanese rules for training. The styling techniques that are passed down are that oaks do not resemble pines in nature and the art of bonsai is applying what we see in nature or a much smaller scale and in a pot so don't train oaks to look like pines.

You have an amazing trunk to work with and I was just wondering what your future plans were for development.

jeff
 

Si Nguyen

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Hi Rockm, I kind like the side view there, but the big root is in your face. Or maybe the right-front- quarter view could be ok for a more "naturalistic" look. The current front is not bad either. I see no problem with a little bit of reverse taper on top. Personally, I kinda like those little reverse taper at the branching points. If this were my tree, I would not have reduced the top so drastically just because of the inverse taperings. It takes a long time to develop a nice full crown on these oaks.
Si
 

rockm

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"It takes a long time to develop a nice full crown on these oaks."

Not on southern live oak. The apex on this tree is the fastest growing part. It is very apically dominant. What appears to be a drastic reduction on the top will be filled in within two years, with denser growth I have no doubt. This species is very responsive to hard pruning. It breaks new shoots very easily, even through the thickest barked portions.

"Being from California we are instructed that the oaks that we have growing in our surrounding areas do not follow or fit the typical Japanese rules for training. The styling techniques that are passed down are that oaks do not resemble pines in nature and the art of bonsai is applying what we see in nature or a much smaller scale and in a pot so don't train oaks to look like pines."

I really don't know what to say to this. I've not been instructed on what's appropriate with a southern live oak. I doubt many people have. I have seen more than a few in nature, being that I spend a lot of time in Texas. This is not completely out of character with the trees there.
 

rockm

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Here's a photo of the tree in April 2010...
 

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