AnthonyB

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Posting in the Toronto Bonsai Society sub forum started recently to help us all out as we distance ourselves into bored oblivion but certainly welcome any input from others in the Bonsai Nut community. Parts of this post are excerpted from a similar thread I started a few weeks back on Mirai but I'm updating with some new pics and will post those separately.

I fell in love with these trees after a visit to Patagonia a couple years ago. The first set of pics are a few from that trip along a hike into the mountains in Torres del Paine National Park. At the time of the trip I thought all of those in the pics were N antarctica but I am pretty certain that the rough barked ones are actually N pumilio and N antarctica are the smooth barked specimens.

I have successfully grown some N antarctica seedlings from seed after a couple false starts and have learned a few of their foibles along the way (ericaceous soil is a must for eg) but wondering if anyone has other tips. I have seeds from other Nothofagus species (dombeyi, pumilio, obliqua, alpina, cuninnghamii, gunnii) currently stratifying or planted. So far this season I've also had seedlings started with two obliqua variants and also alpina. Have about a dozen antarctica year old seedlings, another few dozen just germinated, along with about a dozen obliqua and 3 alpina.

I'm going to refer to them all as Nothofagus ('False Beech') here but actually there has been new genetic analysis that as divided that previous grouping out into new subgenera so technically I should be referring to Lophozonia cuninnghamii, alpina and obliqua and Fuscospora gunnii.

With their tiny leaves, fine ramification and tendency for twisted, gnarly growth, one would think they would be popular as bonsai material but it's pretty hard to find good specimens, even online. There are a few links in the BN forums here to some interesting trees though:

This one from Dennis Vojtilla (note it was mislabeled in the thread as a hawthorn)

@grouper52 posted three trees back in 2007 (1, 2, 3)

@barrosinc posted a N dombeyi and also referenced receiving an obliqua but I'm not sure if any pics of that one ever got posted

@AJL posted a collected tree from Chile (not sure if it was an antarctica, looks like it might be an obliqua to me)

There was also an interesting post of a N antarctica trunk chop that looks like it might have been unsuccessful

Updates on all of the above, pics of other trees, thoughts on growing and styling them would be most welcome!
 

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AnthonyB

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Posting some pics of seedlings in various stages here. The first few show the size and root growth after about 1 year of continuous growth from seed.

Next is one that nearly died after desiccating in a hot corner of my indoor grow table, I placed it under a cloche for a couple of weeks and cut back the trunk to the level of the primary branches as it appeared there were some buds there, these grew quite robustly and you can see the growth after about 6 weeks.

Last is a pic from my current crop of seedlings, scarified mid Dec 2019, stratified for about two and a half months and planted early march (either into soil or using paper towel method). Foreground left - obliqua; foreground right - alpina; background - antarctica.
 

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Lifaholic

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That's a super exciting find! I love coming back from trips inspired by the nature there.
I'm curious about the overwintering of this species in our climate.
Do you have some experience with that or are you still at the experimentation phase?
Thanks!
 

AnthonyB

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My oldest N antarctica seedlings are the product of my second attempt at growing them from seed. I came back from my trip in spring 2018, immediately ordered some seed, learned about scarification and stratification and had a late spring go at growing them. I got a handful germinating but the all died in the summer. Lessons learned, I tried again in the winter of 2019 and those are the little trees you see examples of in the pics above. I had 17 germinate and have 13 alive.

They all nearly died mid summer when I transferred them from their jiffy trays to soil. I noticed them not looking well within a week or so and frantically started searching around for what might be wrong finding again very little online. Ironically I stumbled on an entry about the species in Peter Chan's pocket Bonsai Bible and that is the first place I found mentioning ericaceous soil as essential for them. Also discovered that the worm castings that I had mixed in with the potting soil I'd used are, despite being quite nutirent rich, quite basic, pH-wise, exactly what they should not be in. Again after some frantic hunting around, I figured out that Miracle-Grow's African Violet soil was just about the perfect pH (5.8) and carried at Canadian Tire, picked some up, did an emergency bare rooting and repotting of all of them and within a week or two they were almost all showing new growth (only lost one in that experiment).

So you can imagine my trepidation at leaving them out for the winter. Peter has them rated at zones 6-7 but warns against prolonged exposure to very cold temps and drying winds. So I brought them inside and kept them warm and under grow lights and they've done pretty well. I'm guessing that they will be ok under a cold frame but I'm going to hedge my bets, keep some growing through this winter and leave some outside (and perhaps also a few with someone else from the club if they have space in a cold garage).

Some of the Nothfagus species are evergreen but this one is supposed to be deciduous so I don't know what the potential consequences of driving this one through multiple winters without dormancy. Most of the trees have had some leaf drop and colour change so far this spring (not sure if that was due to the root trim and repot however) but there is fresh new growth coming in all along the braches that have now lignfied in addition to continued new growth at branch tips.
 

sorce

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Welcome to your little corner of Crazy!

Glad to see you fellers using this space!

Sorce
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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NIce thread. A dive into the relic species of the Gondwanaland forests. Actually the Nothofagus are modern species, representing ancient lineages that were abundant in the forests of prehistoric Gondwanaland. Reunite Pangea!

You should probably pick a "safe word" before going deeper into the Nothofagus dungeon. - can you tell I am a fan of "Crime Pays, Botany does not"?

I have not attempted to grow Nothofagus, so I can not add anything constructive from experience. I do know from growing other Chilean plants like Luma appendiculata and Desfontainia spinosa, plants that "in theory" could handle a certain amount of cold, due to the high elevations they are found at, that they may, or may not actually be able to handle a real winter, at low elevation. I found both Luma and Desfontainia subject to damage at just a few degrees below freezing. I would hesitate to expose Nothofagus & other Chilean natives to temperatures below -10 C (roughly +15 F). Duration of the cold may also be an issue. They may tolerate brief 4 hour dips to rather chilly temperatures, it is another thing entirely to subject them to 3 months of - 10 C or -15 C.

But I have no real world experience with them, so proceed with caution, and let us know about successes and failures. These look like nice species for bonsai.
 

0soyoung

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There is a variety known as 'Puget Pillar' that grows in the Seattle Arboretum. I have two that are now about 5 feet tall and half to three-quarter inch caliper. They seem to do quite well in the areas of WA and OR west of the Cascades = generally USDA hardiness zone 8 and AHS heat zones 1 and 2. There are also examples in the UBC botanical garden in Vancouver, BC which has, for all practical purposes, this same climate.

It occurs to me that if one, such as @AnthonyB has a number of seedlings and a small freezer, one could determine how hardy the species/varieties can be. Typically, seedlings are exposed to cycles of modest freezing (say to -5C) imitating autumn to induce cold hardening. Then seedlings are subjected to colder extremes (such as the USDA zones). Basically when the plant is mush or won't subsequently grow, it is too cold. The coldest temperature exposure that the plants survive would be their hardiness limit. Lots of tedious work, but if one wants to know, one gets a college student to do it or digresses into one, their self !!. But, @AnthonyB, since you have a club ... 🤔
 

AJL

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Hi Anthony here for comparison are a few pics of my Nothofagus (antarctica?)
This was collected from natural regen in a forestry plantation where there were masses of self sown Nothofagus saplings, growing in semi shade.
Ive since had problems during summer months when the leaves went yellowed/chlorotic and growth seemed stunted. This was the only tree in my collection with this problem.
I suspected my growing medium was at fault as at that time I was experimenting with a mix containing a high proportion of Leca granules.I then repotted into an Akadama/ catlitter mix but the same problem continued the next summer. Ive since planted the tree into a bed in my allotment for some 'hospital ' treatment for a couple of years and it now seems to be looking much better.
DSCN1070.JPG
 

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f1pt4

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So you can imagine my trepidation at leaving them out for the winter. Peter has them rated at zones 6-7 but warns against prolonged exposure to very cold temps and drying winds. So I brought them inside and kept them warm and under grow lights and they've done pretty well. I'm guessing that they will be ok under a cold frame but I'm going to hedge my bets, keep some growing through this winter and leave some outside (and perhaps also a few with someone else from the club if they have space in a cold garage).

I've been doing experiments like that with some Bilobed Grewia cuttings. I heard to treat them like a trident. I heard they do fine in a cold frame. I hear they do great in tropical conditions.

Well by process of seeing which cuttings live, I've narrowed it down to ... treat them like a tropical.

I'll gladly test out some winter theories for you next winter. Cold Frame, Unheated Garage or Insulated unheated shed.

Looking forward to seeing your progress!!
 

AnthonyB

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NIce thread. A dive into the relic species of the Gondwanaland forests. Actually the Nothofagus are modern species, representing ancient lineages that were abundant in the forests of prehistoric Gondwanaland. Reunite Pangea!

You should probably pick a "safe word" before going deeper into the Nothofagus dungeon. - can you tell I am a fan of "Crime Pays, Botany does not"?

I have not attempted to grow Nothofagus, so I can not add anything constructive from experience. I do know from growing other Chilean plants like Luma appendiculata and Desfontainia spinosa, plants that "in theory" could handle a certain amount of cold, due to the high elevations they are found at, that they may, or may not actually be able to handle a real winter, at low elevation. I found both Luma and Desfontainia subject to damage at just a few degrees below freezing. I would hesitate to expose Nothofagus & other Chilean natives to temperatures below -10 C (roughly +15 F). Duration of the cold may also be an issue. They may tolerate brief 4 hour dips to rather chilly temperatures, it is another thing entirely to subject them to 3 months of - 10 C or -15 C.

But I have no real world experience with them, so proceed with caution, and let us know about successes and failures. These look like nice species for bonsai.

Lol @ the 'safe word'. I am ready, come what may. There is at least one senior member of our club who I know had the same interest, great skill in growing trees from seed and still had them die off on him. I'm hoping my middle name does not turn out to be Quixote!

I was not planning controlled freezes (although that idea does have a lot of appeal to the scientist in me), rather I was planning to divide out the plants and drop some of them into an air frame I'm planning for this winter. It will be placed in a stairwell I have leading to my basement door but there is a drain at the base of it that should be pumping out deep ground temp air all winter and thus (hopefully) keeping it buffered from our Canadian winter. That said, in Toronto at least, we generally are not getting the super cold winters that we used to. Still it can get down there (-15 C occasionally) so I definitely need have a 'safe space' for my less hardy plants.
 

AnthonyB

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I've been doing experiments like that with some Bilobed Grewia cuttings. I heard to treat them like a trident. I heard they do fine in a cold frame. I hear they do great in tropical conditions.

Well by process of seeing which cuttings live, I've narrowed it down to ... treat them like a tropical.

I'll gladly test out some winter theories for you next winter. Cold Frame, Unheated Garage or Insulated unheated shed.

Looking forward to seeing your progress!!
I will definitely take you up on the various conditions to try. As I note above, my options are limited to my hypothetical cold frame, a warm light table and what I usually do for my regular trees, bury the pot in ground and cover the tree with fallen leaves for the winter.
 

AnthonyB

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Hi Anthony here for comparison are a few pics of my Nothofagus (antarctica?)
This was collected from natural regen in a forestry plantation where there were masses of self sown Nothofagus saplings, growing in semi shade.
Ive since had problems during summer months when the leaves went yellowed/chlorotic and growth seemed stunted. This was the only tree in my collection with this problem.
I suspected my growing medium was at fault as at that time I was experimenting with a mix containing a high proportion of Leca granules.I then repotted into an Akadama/ catlitter mix but the same problem continued the next summer. Ive since planted the tree into a bed in my allotment for some 'hospital ' treatment for a couple of years and it now seems to be looking much better.
View attachment 296134
AJ thank you for the update. Awesome to hear some info about more mature trees. It's hard to tell re: species without some scale for how big that tree is but the leaves look a bit large to me for antarctica or even dombeyi. Could it be N obliqua? Not 100% sure about that (try a google image search for leaves of both trees and you'll see what I mean). N obliqua has rough bark in mature form but maybe your tree is just not old enough yet to develop it?

As for the the leaves going chlorotic, this is exactly how mine behaved when I had them planted in non acidic soil.

You might look for some way to help acidify the soil and also for fertilizer that is designed for acid loving plants. The pics I posted above were from a re-potting early this spring. I removed them from full organic (the lower pH African violet soil I referenced above) into a pH 5.8 free draining inorganic/organic mix (Bonsai Jack's Organic conifer mix) mixed 2:1 with an inorganic bonsai mix (acadama, turface, red/black lave, pumice). Half of them also got a ~15% kanuma as an experiment to see if that helped with pH (so far no differences noted between either group).

They have done very well in this although there was some leaf drop initially (but I'm not sure if that was caused by the repot or the root trim or coming out of 12 months with no dormancy or some combination of all three). Nevertheless, a month on they are doing well, new growth is popping up wherever there has been leaf drop.

FYI I also water with pH adjusted water. The Toronto tap water has a pH around 6.5. I bought some pH testing strips off Amazon to figure this out. I then added some regular white cooking vinegar to see how much I needed to get the pH down to around 5.7-5.9. Turns out this is 5 ml in 2 L so I just use that mix every time I water them. For fertilizer I found a Miracle Grow product for acid loving plants and they seem to do well with that, it's pretty similar to their Miracid product. I given them a mild fertilization every 2-4 weeks with this.

Really appreciate you sharing your pics and I look forward to seeing more with time. What do you have it potted in?
 

AnthonyB

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There is a variety known as 'Puget Pillar' that grows in the Seattle Arboretum. I have two that are now about 5 feet tall and half to three-quarter inch caliper. They seem to do quite well in the areas of WA and OR west of the Cascades = generally USDA hardiness zone 8 and AHS heat zones 1 and 2. There are also examples in the UBC botanical garden in Vancouver, BC which has, for all practical purposes, this same climate.

It occurs to me that if one, such as @AnthonyB has a number of seedlings and a small freezer, one could determine how hardy the species/varieties can be. Typically, seedlings are exposed to cycles of modest freezing (say to -5C) imitating autumn to induce cold hardening. Then seedlings are subjected to colder extremes (such as the USDA zones). Basically when the plant is mush or won't subsequently grow, it is too cold. The coldest temperature exposure that the plants survive would be their hardiness limit. Lots of tedious work, but if one wants to know, one gets a college student to do it or digresses into one, their self !!. But, @AnthonyB, since you have a club ... 🤔


Interesting thought on the controlled freezes. Once I have grown out all the new seedlings from this year I might have the stomach to willing sacrifice a few of them (!) The scientist in me knows this is the right thing to do, the plant lover in my quails at the thought :eek:
 

0soyoung

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Interesting thought on the controlled freezes. Once I have grown out all the new seedlings from this year I might have the stomach to willing sacrifice a few of them (!) The scientist in me knows this is the right thing to do, the plant lover in my quails at the thought :eek:
Yes, but imagine how much better the plant lover will sleep once you know instead of imagining what might be or might not :eek:

Ignorance is NOT bliss.
 

AJL

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NIce thread. A dive into the relic species of the Gondwanaland forests. Actually the Nothofagus are modern species, representing ancient lineages that were abundant in the forests of prehistoric Gondwanaland. Reunite Pangea!

You should probably pick a "safe word" before going deeper into the Nothofagus dungeon. - can you tell I am a fan of "Crime Pays, Botany does not"?

I have not attempted to grow Nothofagus, so I can not add anything constructive from experience. I do know from growing other Chilean plants like Luma appendiculata and Desfontainia spinosa, plants that "in theory" could handle a certain amount of cold, due to the high elevations they are found at, that they may, or may not actually be able to handle a real winter, at low elevation. I found both Luma and Desfontainia subject to damage at just a few degrees below freezing. I would hesitate to expose Nothofagus & other Chilean natives to temperatures below -10 C (roughly +15 F). Duration of the cold may also be an issue. They may tolerate brief 4 hour dips to rather chilly temperatures, it is another thing entirely to subject them to 3 months of - 10 C or -15 C.

But I have no real world experience with them, so proceed with caution, and let us know about successes and failures. These look like nice species for bonsai.
Here in Britain the Forestry Industry has been trialling Nothofagus( Southern Beech) for many years and more since the 1970-1980s , as a potential alternative to Beech and Ash.
However, widespread damage to and mortality of southern beeches following the cold winters of 1978/79 and 1981/82 , possibly aggravated by the planting of frost tender provenances ), resulted in a decline in interest in these species for commercial forestry, however now with global warming and better selection of frost hardy provenances there is a revival of interest.
I found the following link whichgives a mass of information which will answer many of our questions https://www.rfs.org.uk/media/483207/species-profile-northofagus.pdf
 

AJL

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AJ thank you for the update. Awesome to hear some info about more mature trees. It's hard to tell re: species without some scale for how big that tree is but the leaves look a bit large to me for antarctica or even dombeyi. Could it be N obliqua? Not 100% sure about that (try a google image search for leaves of both trees and you'll see what I mean). N obliqua has rough bark in mature form but maybe your tree is just not old enough yet to develop it?

As for the the leaves going chlorotic, this is exactly how mine behaved when I had them planted in non acidic soil.

You might look for some way to help acidify the soil and also for fertilizer that is designed for acid loving plants. The pics I posted above were from a re-potting early this spring. I removed them from full organic (the lower pH African violet soil I referenced above) into a pH 5.8 free draining inorganic/organic mix (Bonsai Jack's Organic conifer mix) mixed 2:1 with an inorganic bonsai mix (acadama, turface, red/black lave, pumice). Half of them also got a ~15% kanuma as an experiment to see if that helped with pH (so far no differences noted between either group).

They have done very well in this although there was some leaf drop initially (but I'm not sure if that was caused by the repot or the root trim or coming out of 12 months with no dormancy or some combination of all three). Nevertheless, a month on they are doing well, new growth is popping up wherever there has been leaf drop.

FYI I also water with pH adjusted water. The Toronto tap water has a pH around 6.5. I bought some pH testing strips off Amazon to figure this out. I then added some regular white cooking vinegar to see how much I needed to get the pH down to around 5.7-5.9. Turns out this is 5 ml in 2 L so I just use that mix every time I water them. For fertilizer I found a Miracle Grow product for acid loving plants and they seem to do well with that, it's pretty similar to their Miracid product. I given them a mild fertilization every 2-4 weeks with this.

Really appreciate you sharing your pics and I look forward to seeing more with time. What do you have it potted in?
The tree is now growing in the ground in the rich well manured soil in my allotment and seems to be thriving!
I think you are right that the tree looks like N obliqua, as I collected it from a forestry plantation it will be either Rauli (Nothofagus alpina syn. N. procera), or Roble (Nothofagus obliqua)
 

KiwiPlantGuy

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Interesting thought on the controlled freezes. Once I have grown out all the new seedlings from this year I might have the stomach to willing sacrifice a few of them (!) The scientist in me knows this is the right thing to do, the plant lover in my quails at the thought :eek:

Hi,
Such am interesting thread, so I thought I would jump on in as well.
So being from NZ we have a number of native evergreen Beeches. A recent name change as you pointed out, has turned out natives into Fuscaspora.
So here is a list of NZ beeches -tiny leaves and great ramification.
Fuscaspora solandri -Moutain beech - low altitude snow (-5 I guess)
Fuscaspora cliffordoides - variant of solandri
Fuscaspora menzesii (spp.?) -Silver beech
All of these are low altitude mountain species.
Lastly Fuscaspora fusca - Red beech - more towards farm land (native reserve etc).

From my experience in the nursery trade all of these suffer from phytophora (spp again??) or root rot at early stages. I have a few F solandri and F menzeii to trial for bonsai. A couple of photos although my forest needs a lot of work for me to learn how to construct etc.
47463783-63AA-4CF8-B073-1EAB9DE73E48.jpeg

3E29E25F-9A33-472A-993D-B4F85C1E6BB2.jpeg
The single tree in the box is about 5-6 years old and is really fun. I need to try and learn to wire this, and it grows non-stop all season like 3-4 flushes! Also well drained media with pumice, pine bark and Zeolite is my brew.
Hope this has been informative, and/or helpful.
Charles
 

AnthonyB

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The tree is now growing in the ground in the rich well manured soil in my allotment and seems to be thriving!
I think you are right that the tree looks like N obliqua, as I collected it from a forestry plantation it will be either Rauli (Nothofagus alpina syn. N. procera), or Roble (Nothofagus obliqua)
I didn’t realize that procera was synonymous with alpina, I cane across a reference in a Peter Chan book to procera as one that he thought made good bonsai material (along with antarctica). Thanks also for the link to the forestry document on temperature sensitivity. I’m mulling over ground planting some of mine to stimulate trunk growth but I’d have some come up with a way to protect them from the occasional cold snaps we get here.
 

AnthonyB

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Hi,
Such am interesting thread, so I thought I would jump on in as well.
So being from NZ we have a number of native evergreen Beeches. A recent name change as you pointed out, has turned out natives into Fuscaspora.
So here is a list of NZ beeches -tiny leaves and great ramification.
Fuscaspora solandri -Moutain beech - low altitude snow (-5 I guess)
Fuscaspora cliffordoides - variant of solandri
Fuscaspora menzesii (spp.?) -Silver beech
All of these are low altitude mountain species.
Lastly Fuscaspora fusca - Red beech - more towards farm land (native reserve etc).

From my experience in the nursery trade all of these suffer from phytophora (spp again??) or root rot at early stages. I have a few F solandri and F menzeii to trial for bonsai. A couple of photos although my forest needs a lot of work for me to learn how to construct etc.
View attachment 296712

View attachment 296713
The single tree in the box is about 5-6 years old and is really fun. I need to try and learn to wire this, and it grows non-stop all season like 3-4 flushes! Also well drained media with pumice, pine bark and Zeolite is my brew.
Hope this has been informative, and/or helpful.
Charles
Fantastic contribution, thanks Charles. Please post more as things develop. I agree these species throw leaves so robustly that it can be perplexing to know what to keep and what to let grow. I have a couple of seedlings that seem quite slow to elongate but they have so many tiny leaves on the branches it can be hard to even see the bark. I partially defoliate them just to avoid leaves being completely blocked from light by leaves growing on top of them.
And apropos to your species discussion, look what arrived in my mail box today :):
625FC6B0-9E8D-462A-9C96-9BF1526EC2BB.jpeg
 

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