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Maidenhair Bonsai from a 270 Million Year Old Tree

04/29/20

I'm not so sure about the apex or the way it's so crowded in this photo, but I like the tree anyway. Especially that gnarly old trunk. It's a Chi Chi, a small leaf Ginkgo cultivar that I found on Lakeshore bonsai. Here's their caption: "Ginkgo biloba ‘chi-chi’, 7 years in development from imported raw material. Probably started as an air layer in Japan."

At 270 million years Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair tree) has the distinction of being the oldest living tree species on this planet. Even though they are now found on streets and in parks in many places, ginkgo bonsai are not all that common. This may be because of the problems that the branching presents. Can you think of another type of tree that's used for bonsai, whose branches grow almost straight up and all tightly bunched together?

 

This remarkable broom style Ginkgo is a good example of how
the branches grow straight up and all bunched together.
The photo is from Classic Bonsai of Japan
(Nippon Bonsai Association, now out of print).
50 years old, 33 inches tall (82cm)


The following is borrowed from an ofBonsai article by Heather Hartman...
It is best to style Gingko based on their natural inclinations toward a column, or flame shape. Ginkgo can resent pruning, and as a result, many ginkgo bonsai have a similar look, due to how they show their dislike. Pruned branches are prone to dieback, either shortly after being pruned or the following winter. This can result in a heavy trunk with relatively few, upward facing branches. Twigs will grow in clusters from the branches. As the growth and replacement of branches is repeated over the years, it can result in interesting, gnarled areas on the trunk. Fortunately, not all shoots will dieback, but predicting which ones will and which ones won’t is nearly impossible.” 

  


This ginkgo in full fall yellow belongs to Roger Case

Here's part of what Wikipedia has to say about Ginkgos...
"Ginkgo biloba, commonly known as ginkgo or gingko, also known as the maidenhair tree, is the only living species in the division Ginkgophyta, all others being extinct. It is found in fossils dating back 270 million years. Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated, and was cultivated early in human history. It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food.

"A combination of resistance to disease, insect-resistant wood and the ability to form aerial roots and sprouts makes ginkgos long-lived, with some specimens claimed to be more than 2,500 years old."

 

This is a good example of the columnar shape that is so common with ginkgos. 
It belongs to Dan Barton. I found the photo on ofBonsai Magazine.
It and the photo just below are part of a Ginkgo article by Heather Hartman
(a good read, especially if you like Ginkgo - see above for an excerpt).
 

 

 Same tree as just above, different time of year 

 

This eccentric Ginkgo with its rough bark, great taper and impressive hole (sabamiki)
was sent to us by Calin from Italy

 


 Here's an impressive full size Ginkgo.
It resides at Dargent in Luxembourg City
Photo from Wikipedia

 


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