Yamadori Blueberry? (Probably Not)

grouper52

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Ang3lFire and I had both coveted this little treasure after we saw it at Charlie Anderson's. When it went on sale, I let him have it - he saw it first, and I'm just a nice guy.:rolleyes:

It was billed as a huge, ancient wild blueberry found surviving in a forest clear cut somewhere around here. No one seemed to have ever seen such a thick-trunked, massive old blueberry before. The stump wood was VERY hard, had a rock embedded in it, and the live part seemed to grow from the stump as far as anyone could tell without disturbing it too much. But I had my questions . . .

Ang3lFir3 took it home and tried wiring it, but even loosely wired areas quickly died (see photo). He grew tired of it and traded it to me for a pot. A nice pot. A really nice pot. A really nice antique Chinese pot, as I recall.

The tree survived the winter, and in the early spring-like weather, I decided to repot it. As I dug around, the attachment of the live area to the stump seemed looser and looser, but I was afraid to be too agressive in exploring it in case it really WAS attached. Still . . .

In any event - if the stump is dead and the blueberry not attached, the stump wood is very rot resistant, and can be made more so. So I intend to just treat the composition as if it were a tree, rather than a natural tanuki. I will try some wiring on expendable branches when they are limber and growing vigorously, and if that doesn't work, I will begin the slower, but hopefully more successful process of clip and grow to try to shape it a bit. I may also try multiple guy wires as opposed to wrapped wire - maybe it will at least tolerate that. :)
 

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tom tynan

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Quite an amazing looking old knarly base to that blueberry; the only place they are mentioned is in the Nick Lenz book Bonsai in the Wild - if I recall there is a whole section on blueberry and he discusses how new shoots die back pretty regularly making the composition difficult to control..good luck with that one - it should be fun.....Tom
 
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I hate to be a lint-picker here, but if it was collected from the wild in this area, that's a huckleberry not a blueberry. Both are in the genus Vaccinium the blueberry species name is corymbosum, while huckleberry is ovatum. Blueberries are native to the east coast of the U.S. and range as far east as Wisconsin. Huckleberries are native to west coast U.S. and don't go further east than the rocky mountains. The plants themselves are similar enough but the big difference is in the fruit--blueberries are larger, mealier and sweeter. Huckleberries are usually smaller, tarter and the seeds are smaller. Another telling feature is in the end of the berry itself. Huckleberries are flat on the end opposite the stem while blueberries have 5 flaps on the end that look like a pentagon.

The final test of all is in the flavor of the berries themselves. I don't care who you are, a handful of huckleberries is ambrosia compared to a handful of blueberries. And lint-picker that I am, you might guess which I prefer. Blueberries are grown commercially because they are larger and much easier to pick. Huckleberries have been tried commercially and fail every time. They seem not to like cultivation and can be grown but will not produce fruit in captivity...maybe the pollinator lives only at higher elevation? Maybe the long months of being buried under snow is the trick? All I know is that they can fetch $10/# in season.

Blueberries are grown out here and do very well as a crop. There's an outside chance yours escaped from a cultivated field but if it was collected at any elevation at all, chances are you have ovatum. If it ever sets fruit, you might be able to tell the difference. There are other differences in the habit of each species that may help. Blueberries have coarser twigging than huckleberries; flowers are larger than huckleberries; flowers are mostly white while huckleberry flowers are pink; blah, blah, blah.

Judging from your photo and description, I think you have a huckleberry or possibly a red huckleberry. There is even an evergreen huckleberry that is restricted to coastal areas on up to Alaska.

Lastly, I have several huckleberries I have collected for bonsai purposes and have had the same results regarding fruit-bearing that others have had. Mine have set fruit but they are very small and not sweet at all. They seem to like to abandon older established branches and send up suckers from the roots and trunk when things aren't going well:( My conclusion is that they make interesting accent trees and deserve our attention and interest. I saw one very nice one in a California show a few years back, so I know others are working with them. I wish you all the luck with yours.
 

ghues

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Huckleberry or Blueberry

Hi Will/Greg,
Well it might be lint/lint picking but in the PNW we have a number of huckleberries and some of them are called blueberry in some of the literature I have (A field Guide to Site Identification and Interpretation for the Vancouver Forest Region 0 Green and Klinka 1994).

Depending on the elevation it was collected, it could be vaccinium parvifolium (red huckleberry – at lower elevations) or V. alaskaense (Alaskan blueberry) or V. ovalifolium (oval leafed blueberry) or V. caespitosum (dwarf blueberry) all of which are usually found at mid- high elevations and lastly V. membranaceum (black huckleberry) or V. Deliciosum (blue-leaved huckleberry) which are found in the highest elevations bordering on alpine.

I’m always on the lookout for ones with a big base and I know that they will frequently sucker from their bases and aren’t too friendly to wiring.
Good luck with yours Will.
Cheers Gman
 
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Looks good thus far... and to confirm your memory the trade was for a really nice antique Chinese pot... I hope you still feel good about the trade. If you don't, I'll make it up to you brother in whatever way you wish... I wouldn't be happy with the trade if you were not. Your happiness is far more important than the trade.

V
 

grouper52

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Whatever this is, here's an update. Rather haphazard lines, but the colors are nice at this time, and I'm growing more fond of it over time. Even had a few small flowers and berries this year, but they're gone now. Enjoy.
 

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bonsaiTOM

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The colors are amazing - warm and earthy. I like this a lot. Could you tell us the rough dimensions?
 

JudyB

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Really nice, please post a fall color pic, as I'm sure it's spectacular.
 

grouper52

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Thanks, folks. It sits about a foot above the soil.

Fall implies we had a summer. I'm not even sure we HAVE seasons here anymore. Just day to day surprises.

As I recall, it's evergreen and doesn't do much of anything in the fall. These areas of new growth are about as good as it gets. Oh, and of course the few little flowers and berries. I'll post them next time it decides to go that route.
 

ghues

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Hi Will,
Your Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) is looking good. Thanks for the update.
 

grouper52

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I thought the salmon-colored new growth, and the two residual clusters of small flowers (upper right) made this guy pretty enough to photograph yesterday, even though I'm just kind of letting it grow without a whole heck of a lot of styling efforts on my part.

I may put it in a more appropriate pot next season, and perhaps in the interim do a bit of clip-and-grow and guy-wiring to give it a bit better balance and definition.

Enjoy.
 

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edprocoat

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I agree its nice looking as it it, I have to admit I even like the color of the pot for the whole composition. The natural clay of the pot allows my eye to take in the subtle color variations of the leaves and the trunk etc. without being a distraction. I like it.
It puts me in mind of a large old tree that was topped by a storm and came back.

ed
 

grouper52

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Thanks to both of you. I agree that any styling will be mostly to frame, compliment and draw the eye to the trunk, in keeping with Dan Robinson's "Focal Point Bonsai Design." Still, my aim is to have the styling also allow a pleasing display of the flowers and colored foliage this time of year if it won't distract too much.

I agree, the choice of pot could make or break the success of the tree. Not my strong suit, so I'll be giving it a lot of thought. :)
 
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