Hornbeam Harvest Part 2

I made a collecting trip with a new bonsai friend today, and we got some really nice American hornbeams (Carpinus caroliniana).  Among the nicknames for the species is “Musclewood.”  This is because as it matures the trunk of a hornbeam will produce sinewy-looking ridges that run vertically along and sometime around the trunk.

Here’s the biggest specimen I got today.  The trunk base is 4.5″ at soil level, and it’s 18″ to the chop on the main trunk.  As you can see, it’s a twin-trunk with the two trunks really snugged together.  I have a vision for it, so once it comes out I’ll get to work and see if my idea is going to work.

Aren’t the roots terrific?  The muscling on this specimen is subtle but there.  You can even see it on the small branch stub I left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the best specimen I got today.  The trunk base is 4″, and it’s 19″ to the chop.  There was a secondary trunk growing in back, and I went ahead and cut it off.  The trunk will need carving there, but that will only enhance the character.

The muscling is much more prominent on this one.  And the radial roots are awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the movement, muscling and character of this specimen.  It’s smaller than the other two, with a trunk base of 2″, but the roots are still great and if you’re looking for a smaller American hornbeam that has great trunk character, you’d be hard-pressed to do better.

This one is chopped at 16″.  It might could stand to be chopped another 4″ or so.  That’s something I can decide later.

Let me know what you think.  These trees should be budding in about eight weeks.

10 Replies to “Hornbeam Harvest Part 2”

  1. Chris Jackson

    Hey Zach!

    I would love to have the third tree with the beautiful movement and muscling. I can see a very unique specimen here…can you part with it?

    Please let me know when you get a chance.

    Sincerely,
    Chris J.
    Florida

    Reply
  2. Todd ellis

    I look at where you cut the roots, and wonder if you will get them to send out new roots at the cuts. There does not seem to be enough roots to get the trunks started. I look forward to seeing your results this late Spring…

    Reply
    • Zach Smith Post author

      Root tissue regenerates new root tissue when pruned hard, just as trunk/branch/foliar tissue regenerates new tissue of its kind when pruned hard. It’s a common mistake folks make when collecting deciduous trees, to harvest and try to keep too much root. Trust me, it’s not necessary.

      Reply
      • Michael

        Following up. Are you suggesting its a disadvantage to collect too many feeder roots on hornbeam, or simply observing its not necessary. I have an enormous one on my property I intend to collect in early March. Collecting fewer roots would certainly be helpful, but I’m also in a position to collect it with sufficient feeder roots as well. I’ve always defaulted to more is better, but given your examples I’m wondering if I can collect it with significantly less.

        Reply
        • Zach Smith Post author

          Michael, with deciduous trees it is not necessary to collect “feeder” roots. And you really can’t collected true feeders anyway, as they are too tender to survive lifting. Which means the tree has to throw new feeders anyway. What most folks think are feeder roots when collecting these trees are actually small hardened off fibrous roots that transport moisture by way of the new tender white true feeders that can actually absorb moisture. In my experience, collecting more fibrous roots does not enhance the tree’s odds of survival.

          Reply
          • Michael

            So then managing post collection transpiration becomes a priority.

            How are the trees you collected absorbing water? And how long post collection does it take for a tree to develop the mechanisms its need to absorb enough water to continue?

          • Zach Smith Post author

            You will only get moisture loss through the trunk chop and other larger cuts. Those must be sealed. The newly collected trees typically don’t absorb water (with the possible exception of Bald cypress, whose wood is like a sponge). The cells remain hydrated until budburst, which utilizes water already in the tree, and this is followed by the emergence of new roots which restore the normal hydration process.

  3. Larry Gockley

    Hi Zach. Just one quick question. In winter time , ( no leaves ), how do you tell the difference between hornbeam and water elm ? The bark is quite similar.

    Reply
    • Zach Smith Post author

      There are subtle differences, Larry, that take a little practice to recognize. Hornbeams have obvious winter buds, while Water-elm’s are inconspicuous. Hornbeam’s bark is what I’d call “slick green,” while Water-elm’s is a bit roughish though certainly smooth. Older hornbeams have fluting (“muscling”) of the trunk; I’ve only ever seen one or two Water-elms with trunk fluting, so it’s unlikely you’ll see this.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *