Please help identify this mystery tree

pdfig

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Hello fellow bonsai lovers,

I have a mystery species it would be great to help identify. This was purchased from Chikugo-en Bonsai Nursery in Gardena, CA in January 2019 (see picture below right after purchase). It was purchased during winter and is deciduous, so no leaves at time of purchase.

IMG_0000.jpg

Upon asking the species, I was told it was a Malus. After it leafed out the first time, however, the leaves don't seem to be like any malus I've seen. I have also not seen any fruit. The bark is a beautiful light grey. I've started initial training and am shaping into a windswept style of sorts. See pictures below showing the tree today, just after leafing out this spring.

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Any help much appreciated!
 

penumbra

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Its a maple but the leaves aren't fully in yet so its hard to know what kind.
 

penumbra

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Could be a sweet gum
Actually I first saw it as a sweet gum. I decided maple because the points on the leaves are not as sharp as the Sweet Gums growing here. But considering the variability of gums from different sources, it could be. Maples have leaves that are opposite. I can't remember on gums whether it is opposite or alternate.
 

pdfig

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Actually I first saw it as a sweet gum. I decided maple because the points on the leaves are not as sharp as the Sweet Gums growing here. But considering the variability of gums from different sources, it could be. Maples have leaves that are opposite. I can't remember on gums whether it is opposite or alternate.
All very good points, thank you!
 

Shibui

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Very easy to tell the difference between liquidamber and acer. Acer has opposite leaf. Liquidamber has alternate leaf arrangement.
Even without a close look at the leaf arrangement on the stems this looks far more like Liquidamber than any Acer.
 

penumbra

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Sweet Gum, that's great. Haven't tried one yet but it is one of my favorite native trees. I am glad everyone jumped in here to help. A reminder to me that first impressions are usually right.
 

pdfig

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Sweet Gum, that's great. Haven't tried one yet but it is one of my favorite native trees. I am glad everyone jumped in here to help. A reminder to me that first impressions are usually right.
Also one of my favorite native trees! I'm very happy it turned out to be this instead of the Malus :)
 

sorce

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Pretty. Welcome to Crazy!

Think about removing this entire straight piece, but I'd cut it to here soon to spark budding and keep it from outgrowing and shading your small branches.
Capture+_2021-03-19-06-06-12.png

This could go too.
Capture+_2021-03-19-06-06-33.png

Sorce
 

pdfig

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Pretty. Welcome to Crazy!

Think about removing this entire straight piece, but I'd cut it to here soon to spark budding and keep it from outgrowing and shading your small branches.
View attachment 361910

This could go too.
View attachment 361909

Sorce
Thanks for the advice, Sorce. Good point about the potential shading of the smaller branches.
 

sorce

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@pdfig did you happen to start this journey with a ficus from a Police Station?

Sorce
 

Zconcon

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Actually I first saw it as a sweet gum. I decided maple because the points on the leaves are not as sharp as the Sweet Gums growing here. But considering the variability of gums from different sources, it could be. Maples have leaves that are opposite. I can't remember on gums whether it is opposite or alternate.
I used the plantsnap app with the photos OP provided. It’s normally a bit off with its initial choice, but offers a few alternatives for what it thinks it could be.
 

Cmd5235

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Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweet Gum) definitely. I have a ton.

If you prune during the dormant season, do NOT prune back branches you don't want to lose. If you remove the terminal buds on the end, the tree will drop the whole branch due to auxin withdrawal. I learned this the hard way a few years ago.
 

pdfig

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Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweet Gum) definitely. I have a ton.

If you prune during the dormant season, do NOT prune back branches you don't want to lose. If you remove the terminal buds on the end, the tree will drop the whole branch due to auxin withdrawal. I learned this the hard way a few years ago.
Thank you for this important advice on the Liquidamabar. After identifying, I started researching and ran across an article that warned about removing terminal buds. It's good to have you back this up as well!

Would love to see some pics of your trees sometime :)
 

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