Whenever anyone talks about or posts on a forum about swamp maple, Acer rubrum (also known as red maple), I advise not trying to collect larger specimens. Why? I’ve learned the hard way that while these trees mostly survive collecting, they ultimately succumb to a fungal infection that kills them mostly or completely. It doesn’t happen in one year, but rather in three or four so you work hard at styling the tree and of course fighting off the infection but it’s very hard to win. A member of our local club had a very large one he’d created from a stump – the stump was of course intact when collected, but over time rotted out completely through the base and on one side. He maintained the tree for a couple of decades, with the rot advancing all the time.
I made a collecting trip today, but high water thwarted my plans. I did, however, run across a couple of swamp maples that looked really awesome to me. I just couldn’t resist bringing them home. So now the challenge begins.
Here’s the bigger of the two maples. The trunk base on the main trunk is 3″, the smaller is 1″. The taller trunk is chopped at 19″. It has bark, so I’d guess it’s at least 30 years old. I’ll shorten it more next year. I’m in hopes that leaving it longer may help me in my fight against the fungus. Time will tell.
Here’s another view of this tree. I’m not sure where the front will end up being, but I’d say I have a couple of great options.
Potted in a tub. I also left the roots long, again in hopes it’ll help me keep the tree alive and intact a few years from now.
Here’s another specimen I really liked the looks of. The trunk base is 2″ and it’s 16.5″ to the chop.
Let me know what you think of these trees. I’ll post more on them as they come out and grow. This may end up being a hopeless cause, but it’s certainly a bonsai challenge – and who knows, it may end up being more.