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American Tropical Bonsai by Nature and Friends

03/31/20

This writhing snake Buttonwood belongs to Ed Trout, a long time Florida bonsai artist and teacher


It’s time to revisit Buttonwoods (Conocarpus erectus), one of the few plant species that is native to three continents (North & South America and Africa). Buttonwoods are also found in the Caribbean and on some Pacific Islands. They typically grow on shorelines in tropical and sub-tropical climates, including Florida (all the ones shown here are from Florida, thus the American tropical bonsai in the title)
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Without the flowing deadwood, this would be just another tree. With the deadwood, it's a true tropical gem.  It's by Robert Kempinski from his Mahogany Row Studio


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Buttonwoods are prized for their convoluted, weathered deadwood. Much of this character is the result of hurricanes and other violent tropical storms. In some cases they are picked up by strong winds and carried to other locations where they put down new roots, often resulting in a complete reorientation of the plant

Needless to say Buttonwoods are prized for bonsai. So prized in fact that is now illegal to collect them in Florida

 

This twisty bunjin style Buttonwood shows what can happen when a tenacious tree hangs onto a Florida shoreline that is ravaged by repeated tropical storms and occasional hurricanes. It belongs to Doug Hawley who had been refining it for about ten years when this photo was taken about eleven years ago 
Height 28" Pot by Sara Rayner

 

This tropical gem belonged to Ed Trout. The sad news about this beautiful tree
is that it was stolen in 2008 and was never recovered

 


This unusual dome shaped Buttonwood is by Jim Smith 
Jim was one of the original American tropical bonsai artists
  
 
This dynamic Buttonwood is one of four trees from Florida that were selected for the Artisan's Cup, a major 2015 bonsai event that was held in Portland, Oregon. It belongs to Paul Pikel. Image courtesy of Mary Miller (Bonsai Mary of Bonsai Banter)

 


Another one by Robert Kempinski. Like many Buttonwoods this one is so distinctive 
that once you've seen it, you'll always recognize it

 


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