Good trunks

What is a good bonsai trunk?

Birch trunk
Birch trunk

The base of a good bonsai is a good trunk. The main thing giving the impression of age are the trunk and bark of your bonsai. And all too often this aspect is overlooked when people just start off with bonsai. How to create the perfect trunk for bonsai? To know that, one first needs to define what a good trunk is. Let’s take a closer look.

Function of the trunk
The trunk and roots of a tree give support for the crown. Together they make sure that during a heavy storm the tree is not toppled over. Furthermore they provide the tree with water and nutrients needed for life & growth. So a good trunk is well-connected to the roots and strong enough to uphold the crown. Impressively old trees all have a strong root system, and a thick trunk with lots of taper.

Shape and image
The olders part of a tree is always to lower trunk. Although this may seem like stating the obvious, it might not be for everybody. As a tree grows, starting with a seed germinating, and throwing out the first shoot, this your sapling will one hundred years later be the lowest section of the trunk. As such, the trunk of the tree has experienced a lot of wear ant tear. Through storms, prevailing wind direction and availability of light, the trunk may have twisted and turned growing up. The mature trunk shows this struggle for existence through bends, damaged bark and a general weathered look.

With bonsai we aim at creating the impression of an old tree, seen as if we are standing fairly close to the tree. As such, the trunk shows a strong taper: From a strong rootbase, the trunk gradually gets thinner going up into the tree, where eventually it splits in smaller branches.

This post is part of a series of posts on growing bonsai trunks.

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