I posted this fall shot of my ‘Root Around Cypress Knee’ Water-elm, Planera aquatica. The tree had been in its pot for a couple of years. Because I had not been able to give it a lot of room during the first potting, I didn’t want to wait another year to cut back the roots and give the tree fresh soil. Plus I wanted to get an idea of the condition of the knee, which is not going to last more than another season or two. This knee is composed of sapwood. While bald cypress heartwood is virtually indestructible, the sapwood is very light and rots easily. This is especially true if the wood remains in contact with water. In the case of this tree, there was a smaller knee emerging from the left-hand side of the trunk base which rotted away last year. So that left me with the main knee.
Here’s a shot of the tree from the rear, after I pulled it from the pot. You can see there were plenty of roots. You can also see the very nice nebari this tree has. This is good news for the time when that knee isn’t with me any longer. It’ll make for a good, stable looking surface root structure.
In this shot I’ve already teased out and eliminated a lot of the roots, especially finer surface roots. This exposed the lower part of the knee and allowed me to judge its integrity. There’s softness going on, and because the knee has a cut surface on the bottom its ability to absorb moisture just cannot be thwarted. Cypress wood is pretty much like a sponge. This is why when collecting the species you have to seal the top chop. Water is sucked up through the sapwood from the severed tap and lateral roots, and it’ll evaporate right through the sapwood at the top chop and dry the tree out.
Another angle on the nebari embracing the knee.
Now the roots are all trimmed and the tree is ready to go back in its pot.
The final result. I’ve raised the tree somewhat in the pot, exposing the fine nebari it possesses. Even once the knee is gone, this is going to be a fine water-elm bonsai.
The trunk base is 2.5″ in diameter and it’s 21″ tall. The pot is a beautiful rounded-corner rectangle by Byron Myrick.