Out of my element...Trident Maple

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So my brother-in-law gave me this bonsai because he claimed it was too far gone to fix. I KNOW it isn't but I also know that I don't know how to fix it. I figured this was the best place to ask since I have absolutely zero experience in this stuff.

Three questions for the experts:
1. Is it a trident maple?
2. What did he do to screw up that stem in the middle and is there anything I can do to make it look normal again and not like a tree with a stump in the middle?
3. Why did the leaves not turn pretty colors and fall off now that it's winter?
 

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Hack Yeah!

Shohin
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Welcome, looks like a trident to me, everything can be corrected if it lives.

Have you been keeping the tree indoors? Could have something to do with the leaves
 

Tieball

Omono
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The tree, the stick, needs a lot of growth. I don’t know where you live but outside growing and letting nature do it’s job would be best. If kept in that pot....growth will be very limited...if at all.
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
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Welcome to the site!

If you could put your location in your personal description, it will help us give you advice.

Right now Trident Maples are dropping leaves and going into Winter dormancy. The really isn't anything that you can do with your tree from now until Spring, except give it a winter home and make sure it doesn't dry out. That also means you need to keep it cold (if you didn't already know that) so it should be outside in a protected space like an unheated garage.

In the Spring, I would consider gently transplanting it into a much larger pot like an Anderson grow flat, and letting all the spring growth run wild. Then once the spring growth hardens off, you can take a look at what you have and do some selection pruning of weird trunk stumps, etc. But the more you let this grow - at least for a couple of years - the happier you will be :)
 

j evans

Chumono
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Welcome! and Welcome to the game of waiting........called Bonsai
 

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
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It does look like a trident maple.

It also has a lot of signs that it’s been kept inside, which will weaken a trident until it’s dead. Are you in SC? If so, this tree should be fully hardy outside, and unless it’s much below freezing, that’s where you should keep it. They should be going dormant, and you want that to happen so it will begin to thrive in the spring. Find a place outside out of the way, and mulch it under some pine straw and forget about it until March, then check the buds to see if they’re starting to swell and show signs of life. Then we can talk about repotting. When it’s actively growing we can talk about pruning, wiring, and a future. Anything different than this, and it’s dead.

The main trunk that looks chewed off can be replaced by one of the two branches below it as they grow.

Meanwhile, find people who have trees you admire and learn what they do. Off the top of my head, look at @Smoke or @markyscott threads here on tridents. @garywood offers pure gold as well.
 
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Wow! Such a good number of replies and some great advice. I live in Virginia and he lives in New Jersey. Apparently it was kept outside but got only about 4 hours of direct sunlight a day.

So it sounds like I'm just going to winter it as best as I can, repot it, and then just let it do its thing for a long while. I just didn't have the heart to throw this out so I guess it will only help with my patience! I'll check back with everyone once I start that process. For now...it seems like I have a ton of reading to do. Thanks again everyone!
 
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Wow! Such a good number of replies and some great advice. I live in Virginia and he lives in New Jersey. Apparently it was kept outside but got only about 4 hours of direct sunlight a day.

So it sounds like I'm just going to winter it as best as I can, repot it, and then just let it do its thing for a long while. I just didn't have the heart to throw this out so I guess it will only help with my patience! I'll check back with everyone once I start that process. For now...it seems like I have a ton of reading to do. Thanks again everyone!
Skip the reading. Go ahead and bare root it, transplant it into the most exotic soil you can conceive of, graft something or three on to it, place it on the dining room table then enter it into the US National next year.

You'll learn a lot.
 

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