Thoughts on Mountain Ebony

RyanSA

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In my town I came across a mountain ebony/orchid tree . I thought it was quite a spectacular tree, I saw another miles away from here. Apart from these two I have not seen others. Are they scarce? Is it bonsai-able material? I know most trees are, if not all, but foliage reduction wise?
 

Tieball

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It is a beautiful tree. The orchid like flowers are an incredible sight. I have seen that with other flowering trees....the flowers don’t reduce...but the leaves sometimes reduce. I think it would be an exciting, exotic, captivating bonsai tree if developed. If you have an opportunity....go for it. One-of-a-kind is a very cool project.

I wonder if you could root cuttings of the right new growth....cuttings work well on other flowering trees. Give it a try....slip out there and snag a few cuttings. Excellent experiment. Even if on private property...I think that if you approached the owner..... said you seriously admired their tree....that they would freely let you take a few cuttings at the right time of the year to try your artistic talents.
 

RyanSA

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It is a beautiful tree. The orchid like flowers are an incredible sight. I have seen that with other flowering trees....the flowers don’t reduce...but the leaves sometimes reduce. I think it would be an exciting, exotic, captivating bonsai tree if developed. If you have an opportunity....go for it. One-of-a-kind is a very cool project.

I wonder if you could root cuttings of the right new growth....cuttings work well on other flowering trees. Give it a try....slip out there and snag a few cuttings. Excellent experiment. Even if on private property...I think that if you approached the owner..... said you seriously admired their tree....that they would freely let you take a few cuttings at the right time of the year to try your artistic talents.
It is quite something. I did get some cuttings, none of them struck yet. But I was so adamant in getting it, I collected seeds yesterday. Currently, the tree drops them, So I have a couple that will sprout soon hopefully.
 

Tieball

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It is quite something. I did get some cuttings, none of them struck yet. But I was so adamant in getting it, I collected seeds yesterday. Currently, the tree drops them, So I have a couple that will sprout soon hopefully.
Sounds like a good plan. I Hope to see you having a fabulous flowering bonsai tree in the future. If it doesn’t work at first...don’t give up. You can always try cuttings at different times in the growth year....or just more seeds. I don’t have flowering trees like this around me at all, however, on other deciduous trees I’ve taken cuttings in the spring at bud swell time. On a Poplar tree I took cuttings in autumn before leaf drop (on a current year new growth, clipped any small leaves off). A plastic cup and straight out native ground soil worked well for me. I have a sandy soil.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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The Bauhinia genus of trees is seldom used for bonsai. Main reason is that most species have large leaves that do not reduce well, meaning that medium and small size bonsai look disproportionate and out of scale. Second reason is that flowers occur on new growth for the season, meaning to see flowers on a Bauhinia bonsai you have to let branches run, grow out of shape before flowers form. While not impossible to work with, this is another difficulty in creating bonsai from Bauhinia. If you create a larger scale bonsai, more than 1 meter tall and wide, the leaf size is less of an issue. There are a few difficult to source species of Bauhinia with small leaves, but these are not common in cultivation.

When not in flower, the Bauhina do not have many traits to make them attractive as bonsai, the bark is relatively smooth, nothing distinctive. So combine boring bark, and large leaves, this is not a preferred species for bonsai. But it can make a pleasant garden tree, or patio tree, if you want to grow it in containers. So if you really want to create a Bauhinia bonsai, my suggestion would be to "go Large", at least a meter tall.

Note I use the genus name Bauhinia, rather than "mountain ebony" because at least here in North America, "Ebony" as a common name can refer to several trees in genus Diospyros, the true ebony & persimmons, or a tree in the pea family (Texas ebony, Ebenopsis). And for Texans, there is a member of the ebony family native to Texas, Diospyros texana, the Texas persimmon. So common names can be confusing. So in Texas, you can see in the same field, a pea family member, Texas ebony, and a true ebony family member, Texas persimmon. Go figure.

There are other flowering trees that will give you better proportioned bonsai, with less effort. Myself being in North America, I am not familiar with what is easily available in your area, but I would wager Natal plum, Carissa macrocarpa, Bougainvillea, a number of Grewia species including Grewia occidentalis would be available, and these all have proven track records of making acceptable bonsai. Visit a local bonsai club, see what others in your area are using.
 

Carol 83

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The Bauhinia genus of trees is seldom used for bonsai. Main reason is that most species have large leaves that do not reduce well, meaning that medium and small size bonsai look disproportionate and out of scale. Second reason is that flowers occur on new growth for the season, meaning to see flowers on a Bauhinia bonsai you have to let branches run, grow out of shape before flowers form. While not impossible to work with, this is another difficulty in creating bonsai from Bauhinia. If you create a larger scale bonsai, more than 1 meter tall and wide, the leaf size is less of an issue. There are a few difficult to source species of Bauhinia with small leaves, but these are not common in cultivation.

When not in flower, the Bauhina do not have many traits to make them attractive as bonsai, the bark is relatively smooth, nothing distinctive. So combine boring bark, and large leaves, this is not a preferred species for bonsai. But it can make a pleasant garden tree, or patio tree, if you want to grow it in containers. So if you really want to create a Bauhinia bonsai, my suggestion would be to "go Large", at least a meter tall.

Note I use the genus name Bauhinia, rather than "mountain ebony" because at least here in North America, "Ebony" as a common name can refer to several trees in genus Diospyros, the true ebony & persimmons, or a tree in the pea family (Texas ebony, Ebenopsis). And for Texans, there is a member of the ebony family native to Texas, Diospyros texana, the Texas persimmon. So common names can be confusing. So in Texas, you can see in the same field, a pea family member, Texas ebony, and a true ebony family member, Texas persimmon. Go figure.

There are other flowering trees that will give you better proportioned bonsai, with less effort. Myself being in North America, I am not familiar with what is easily available in your area, but I would wager Natal plum, Carissa macrocarpa, Bougainvillea, a number of Grewia species including Grewia occidentalis would be available, and these all have proven track records of making acceptable bonsai. Visit a local bonsai club, see what others in your area are using.
I have a Bauhinia grandieri from Wigerts. It has small leaves, and is about 11 inches high. So, you think it isn't suitable for bonsai?
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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I have a Bauhinia grandieri from Wigerts. It has small leaves, and is about 11 inches high. So, you think it isn't suitable for bonsai?
I have a Bauhinia grandieri from Wigerts. It has small leaves, and is about 11 inches high. So, you think it isn't suitable for bonsai?
That is one of the few Bauhinia that is GOOD for bonsai. The small leaves and finer, more twiggy growth solves the 2 biggest flaws with the other Bauhinia species. Wigert's is one of the very few sourcing small leaved Bauhinia species.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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The flowering on new growth is similar to Crepe Myrtle ans Bougainvillea. You have to let the tree "get shaggy" in order to see blooms. That is manageable problem, routinely managed for these species. I have not grown B. grandiieri, so I don't have first hand information, but I believe when you want to see blooms you just let it grow out. The smaller leaves and finer structure of B. grandieri should allow you to get blooms without the tree getting too far out of shape. You will have to experiment. But I think this species (grandieri) should be "tame" enough that it will work.
 

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