White Bark Pine. Your experience?

Albertageo

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Hi. A newbie here. No knowledge of bonsai but learning from this great site from so many experienced individuals.

I've been growing our native alpine plants for a few decades. These are mostly from our nearby Alberta Rocky Mountains.

My question is about White Bark Pine ( Pinus Albicaulis)). We find this at higher altitudes...often in a contorted krummholz form on harsh windswept slopes. They survive despite wind, sun, drought and long freezes.

Anyways, to my question. I gather up some 'soil' (mostly scree)to bring home when I'm 'way up' high collecting plants such as moss campions, saxifrages, etc. Again this year ( for the second year) I have a hundred or so of volunteer White Bark seedlings ( seeds from the soil) growing in my alpine beds. Last year I potted them up in flats then replanted them back in their habitat. This year I'll do the same but thinking about keeping a half dozen to try and bonsai.

Anyways, I'm new at bonsai and would like to know if this species is worth taking on? They are only a few inches high so I'll let them be this season. However, If not, then I'll get them 'all' back into the wild where they will hopefully have long lives.


An aside. I'll also try a couple Engelmann spruce as I see positive posts on them. I'll also twke in s few a Subalpine Fir which has a subspecies unique to our region. Anyways, these species have some really weird shapes on our high mountain slopes.
 

Potawatomi13

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Again this year ( for the second year) I have a hundred or so of volunteer White Bark seedlings ( seeds from the soil) growing in my alpine beds. Last year I potted them up in flats then replanted them back in their habitat. This year I'll do the same but thinking about keeping a half dozen to try and bonsai.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH:D!
 

Potawatomi13

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There seems exceedingly little WB Pine experience this site. 4-5 years ago one member had some. Not sure he's still here:confused:. Personally would say very worthy subject for Bonsai and place you live has correct climate for them.
 
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augustine

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Aren't these a relative of Southwestern WP? I would try if a good specimen could be found. Treat it like Japanese White Pine. Don't overprune or overwater. Reduce the rootball very slowly. Follow the "one insult per year" regimen.

I wouldn't fool with seedlings or small skinny one. They take too long to thicken.
 

Adair M

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Research how to grow and maintain Japanese White Pine. They have similiar growth habits.

Generally speaking, pines are divided into two categories: single flush and double flush. There’s only a few double flush pines, most are single flush.

Both types make excellent bonsai, and their basic care is similiar. Once the trees have grown out and the refinement phase begins, that’s where the differences begin to matter.

Your trees are on the single flush category, as are Japanese White Pines also known as “Five needle pine”. The number of needles in a bundle doesn’t determine whether it’s single or double flush. So when researching, you can search for Japanese White pine or Five Needle Pine for information.
 

amatbrewer

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I very much appreciate your work!
I love White Bark Pine but given their threatened state, I can't bring myself to collect any from the wild.

For what little it is worth, I purchased two bare root white bark pines from an Oregon grower last year (~6" tall). They spent the winter in my cold box and this spring I left one in a grow box (~12"X12"X3") and put the other in a bonsai pot (It is far from bonsai but makes a cute accent plant). Both in a mix of Diatomaceous Earth (OilDry), bark and a little soil (summers in my area can be VERY dry).
The one I put in the grow box with no other work is pushing candles and seems to be quite happy.
The one I put in a pot (a bit of root work and some wiring) has not shown any growth yet. I am keeping my fingers crossed I did not do too much too soon, but I kind of wanted to see just how tough these really are. So regardless I will have learned something.
 

Potawatomi13

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Only related to SW White pine in most general manner because of 5 needles as far as personal knowing goes. Believe WB shorter needled than any other natives except Bristlecone family, possibly Limber pine;). Be careful of H2O with that mixture you have. In nature very tough(except where WP blister rust/beetles concerned).
 

Albertageo

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Thanks for the advice...I'll give a few seedlings a try.

I'm a bit of a nature but so I take endangerment seriously. Fortunately here in our Albera Rockies, these trees are plentiful . They don't suffer much from issues found in slightly warmer climates or pines at lower elevations. This was a brutal winter which is good for this species. One of the advantages of more extreme environments is the almost total absence of introduced species.

A lot of written info on WB pine is just repeated. I do geology work and often up high altitudes with botanists and entomologists. There isn't a lot of definitive answers on the ecosystem. The conifers found at tree line are a bit of taxonomic fuzziness. Engelmann Spuce, Subalpine Fir, WB Pine, ground Junipers are hard to pin down. What is a species, subspecies, etc. There's just too much terrain and most of it inaccessible.

Anyways, a lot of Krummholz WB pine looks forlorn. Tortured. Often one thinks it's dead just to see one branch with greenery. It be fun to recreate a miniature bonsai forest on my alpine plant beds...a miniature Rocky Mountain landscape
 

Peter44

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I collected some WB Pine last year in the Mts outside of town at elevations 5-7000'. I have included some pictures. They are awful leggy but hoping I can get them to back-bud this year. I am also going to try and collect some larger ones this spring with better branching. Do remember that they get that rust disease and there is no cure for that. I have shown a picture of a mature tree with the rust. Personally, I would suggest Ponderosa and Lodgepole pines for a subject verses WB pine. Peter
 

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Tycoss

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I live near Calgary (Strathmore) and have also seen lots of nice specimens in the Rockies. I have yet to try whitebark pine, but they seem to have some outstanding characteristics. They are most similar in habitat and growth habit to Japanese white pine, out of the traditional bonsai species. I wonder if disease/ insects may be a problem, as some alpine species seem to have less resistance to them.

Send me a PM if you like. There aren’t many bonsai enthusiasts around here. I’d be very keen on collecting/trading specimens with someone local!
 

Vance Wood

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Hi. A newbie here. No knowledge of bonsai but learning from this great site from so many experienced individuals.

I've been growing our native alpine plants for a few decades. These are mostly from our nearby Alberta Rocky Mountains.

My question is about White Bark Pine ( Pinus Albicaulis)). We find this at higher altitudes...often in a contorted krummholz form on harsh windswept slopes. They survive despite wind, sun, drought and long freezes.

Anyways, to my question. I gather up some 'soil' (mostly scree)to bring home when I'm 'way up' high collecting plants such as moss campions, saxifrages, etc. Again this year ( for the second year) I have a hundred or so of volunteer White Bark seedlings ( seeds from the soil) growing in my alpine beds. Last year I potted them up in flats then replanted them back in their habitat. This year I'll do the same but thinking about keeping a half dozen to try and bonsai.

Anyways, I'm new at bonsai and would like to know if this species is worth taking on? They are only a few inches high so I'll let them be this season. However, If not, then I'll get them 'all' back into the wild where they will hopefully have long lives.


An aside. I'll also try a couple Engelmann spruce as I see positive posts on them. I'll also twke in s few a Subalpine Fir which has a subspecies unique to our region. Anyways, these species have some really weird shapes on our high mountain slopes.
These are all good trees and worth the time and effort to cultivate them. I wish I had some of both the Subalpine and the White Bark.
 

0soyoung

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AFAIK, all 5 needle pines have the common characteristic that they only back bud as fascicular buds and 'never' bud on 'bare wood' (that no longer has needles). Aside from this they can all be quite different. Tip buds won't be replaced on p. parviflora, so knocking one off pretty much guarantees a dead branch unless it fortuitously happens to release a fascicular bud. P. strobus, on the other hand will replace the terminal bud and likely produces a fascicular bud as well. One can, in fact, treat p. strobus like a Japanese black pine!

I suggest that those of you who have a white bark, try flicking/cutting off the terminal bud(s) from a few branch tips any time from now to the end of June as see what happens. Do you get fascicular buds? Does the terminal bud(s) get replaced? Does the new shoot become shorter the later you do this? Do the needles become shorter the later you do this? Do you by chance see any buds on old wood?

White pines also have papery needle sheaths that drop when the new foliage is hardened. This is a good time to prune the new shoot back to 5 rows or so of fascicles and induce fascicular budding. With p. parviflora, it must be done promptly or the terminal bud won't be replaced.. With p. strobus one can be a lot sloppier about timing. So, how does white-bark behave in this regard?

etc.
 

amatbrewer

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AFAIK, all 5 needle pines have the common characteristic that they only back bud as fascicular buds and 'never' bud on 'bare wood' (that no longer has needles).
Nothing beats first hand experience and/or confirmation, and this excites the geek/engineer in me, but I am going to have to get a couple more trees (and/or some older material) for that. So in he mean time, maybe you can help me understand a seeming inconsistency between this and what the nursery where I got mine said: "these trees have developed persistent clumps of active buds that remain for decades near the base of the tree and at the base of most of the branches. If the main trunk breaks off, the tree will still have many buds all along its stem to produce new trunks." Assuming all of this information is correct [and I have found no cause to doubt 0soyoung] this seems to suggest the WB pine could have fascicular buts in the absence of needles.

So, am I reading too much into this, maybe a nuance of what is or is not considered "bare wood" (e.g. except for locations like the base of branches), or could this be an exception to the 5 needle pine characteristic?
 

wireme

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Thanks for the advice...I'll give a few seedlings a try.

I'm a bit of a nature but so I take endangerment seriously. Fortunately here in our Albera Rockies, these trees are plentiful . They don't suffer much from issues found in slightly warmer climates or pines at lower elevations. This was a brutal winter which is good for this species. One of the advantages of more extreme environments is the almost total absence of introduced species.

A lot of written info on WB pine is just repeated. I do geology work and often up high altitudes with botanists and entomologists. There isn't a lot of definitive answers on the ecosystem. The conifers found at tree line are a bit of taxonomic fuzziness. Engelmann Spuce, Subalpine Fir, WB Pine, ground Junipers are hard to pin down. What is a species, subspecies, etc. There's just too much terrain and most of it inaccessible.

Anyways, a lot of Krummholz WB pine looks forlorn. Tortured. Often one thinks it's dead just to see one branch with greenery. It be fun to recreate a miniature bonsai forest on my alpine plant beds...a miniature Rocky Mountain landscape

I’d love to see the alpine plant beds you mentioned. Do you play with kusomono plantings at all? Alberta alpine plants would be wonderful.

I’m in BC but near the Alberta border and have wandered your alpine a fair bit. I wouldn’t mind growing some whitebark from seed actually. As far as I know they are redlisted across all of Canada so no collecting although they are very plentiful in my alpine here as well. How do you know you have WB and not Limber?
 

Japonicus

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AFAIK, all 5 needle pines have the common characteristic that they only back bud as fascicular buds and 'never' bud on 'bare wood' (that no longer has needles)...
DSC_2984.JPG DSC_2986.JPG DSC_2987.JPG
p Strobus, same as the one worked last Fall (last one I have of 2)
Pic one, 2nd branch from the left, if you look closely further down
there is a 3rd such bud. Pic 2, these buds follow a pattern in distance from terminals.
Pic 3...is a back bud, and I bet occurred on old wood with no needles given the age of the branch
from that bud to the oldest needles that do exist. I certainly did not remove needles between there.
The other small buds in the 1st pics were there last year. Beyond that I'm too forgetful.

Now, this may be the end of any back budding that occurs, but check back in 5 years...
 

Vance Wood

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View attachment 238978 View attachment 238979 View attachment 238980
p Strobus, same as the one worked last Fall (last one I have of 2)
Pic one, 2nd branch from the left, if you look closely further down
there is a 3rd such bud. Pic 2, these buds follow a pattern in distance from terminals.
Pic 3...is a back bud, and I bet occurred on old wood with no needles given the age of the branch
from that bud to the oldest needles that do exist. I certainly did not remove needles between there.
The other small buds in the 1st pics were there last year. Beyond that I'm too forgetful.

Now, this may be the end of any back budding that occurs, but check back in 5 years...
You forget about Bristle Cone Pine and associated relatives.
 

Japonicus

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You forget about Bristle Cone Pine and associated relatives.
I forget a lot of stuff Vance, seriously I do, dementia runs in the family I'm seeing with Mom now, but not sure
how that fits in with my post. Please elaborate within reason/comfort :)
The one that I pictured is a dwarf variety of pinus Strobus on its' own roots.
 

Vance Wood

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I forget a lot of stuff Vance, seriously I do, dementia runs in the family I'm seeing with Mom now, but not sure
how that fits in with my post. Please elaborate within reason/comfort :)
The one that I pictured is a dwarf variety of pinus Strobus on its' own roots.
Bristle Cone buds back on old wood, something they call epicormic buds, within the needle scars is the main source of budding on BCP's.
 

Japonicus

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Bristle Cone buds back on old wood, something they call epicormic buds, within the needle scars is the main source of budding on BCP's.
Well that explains my question. You're good at that Vance :)
Now that I know that...I will eventually forget it. Epicormic buds. I will write it down pen to paper too.
 

0soyoung

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Nothing beats first hand experience and/or confirmation, and this excites the geek/engineer in me, but I am going to have to get a couple more trees (and/or some older material) for that. So in he mean time, maybe you can help me understand a seeming inconsistency between this and what the nursery where I got mine said: "these trees have developed persistent clumps of active buds that remain for decades near the base of the tree and at the base of most of the branches. If the main trunk breaks off, the tree will still have many buds all along its stem to produce new trunks." Assuming all of this information is correct [and I have found no cause to doubt 0soyoung] this seems to suggest the WB pine could have fascicular buts in the absence of needles.

So, am I reading too much into this, maybe a nuance of what is or is not considered "bare wood" (e.g. except for locations like the base of branches), or could this be an exception to the 5 needle pine characteristic?
No real nuance, buds (almost) never appear anywhere other than the bases of needle groups and branch tips is what I meant. I posited only as far as I know and suggested some treatments and observations to make. The scientist/engineer in me always wants to know, so I fiddle and find out - I just love finding things out!

Turn your geek/engineer loose!! :cool:

The nursery tag maybe saves some time exploring how white barks behave. This "persistent clumps ..." thing might even be said of p. strobus. But in the better part of a decade I have had one back bud on 'bare wood' on my little p. strobus 'minima' and it was at the union of a branch and the trunk. I have another standard p. strobus that has been given plenty of stimulus to bud back on 'bare wood' and it never has. Japonicus, on the other hand, has several on his EWP. The nursery tag, though, makes it sound like this occurs quite a bit more often with white barks (i.e., like it should happen spontaneously every season, maybe) and therefore is something I hadn't known. It could be useful or just a nuisance - I dunno. The desirable trait for bonsai, I think, is not having to develop an entirely new branch from the trunk, but just a portion of one, as time goes on.
 
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