Yesterday we wrapped up Bald cypress collecting season. The winter collecting season (this far south) is driven largely by the weather. Ours has seen some warm spells, and despite a few mornings near freezing it’s just not been enough to keep these trees from starting to push buds. I prefer not to risk collecting right after budburst, so the safest course is to call the season done. Fortunately, we got a lot of very nice trees and I’m happy to say that some of them are already pushing buds. So far so good!

This specimen caught my eye because of the nice twist in the trunk that highlights the deep flute in front of the tree.

Here it is in the pot. This specimen is more or less prototypical of what a natural-looking Bald cypress should be: flaring base with good buttressing roots, great trunk taper and character, and usually just a little movement to make for a good start. Since BC’s bud so prolifically, it’s really easy to make a great bonsai structure in a relatively short timeframe.
I got two surprises this trip. Here’s the first one, and you could call it a “small big surprise.” Notice the nice fluting of the trunk on this BC. How big a tree would you say it is? BC trunks don’t typically get the nice fluting until they’re at least 3″ across near the base. This one is just over 2″ at the soil! In fact, it’s the smallest cypress specimen I can ever recall seeing with trunk fluting. A really big surprise!
Here’s the other surprise for the day, and it’s actually a big surprise. As I cleaned up the tree, I discovered a very large hunk of wood where there’s normally just a taproot (occasionally a double-tap). At first I thought it was just caught up in the root base, but as I continued to work on it I realized it was part of the tree! But still, I couldn’t explain how it came to pass.
If you look closely you can see some dark wood that rests between two of the buttressing roots. This wood appears to be the remnant of a one-time BC trunk that died. I can say that it’s very solid! So the plan will be to drill a hole down through this hunk of wood, since it doesn’t currently drain, then treat the dead wood with lime sulfur.
Here’s the tree, potted. The trunk is chopped at 25″, so the taper is just superb. And of course you can’t top that trunk character. I’ll need to carve the sawn part of the remnant trunk you saw in the previous photo, but that should help to really make this an unusual specimen for the Bonsai South collection.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these specimens.