Removing Branches

The removal of a branch is usually something you would do when creating a tree, however as your skills and awareness of shape, and form of your trees develops, you may decide to make an alteration by removing a branch or part of one. This is not as simple as just hacking off the desired wood, as the last thing you need is to spoil the tree by leaving a scar.

Trees will attempt to heal over a cut, the bark growing over the wound until it meets, forming a barrier to keep out what is usually a fungal attack. You should aim to make the cut in such a way as to help the tree heal quickly, while disguising the cut.

In the section on tools you will see the the first specialist tool you should get are 'Wen' or Parrot beak cutters, these make a concave cut into the tree. This both heals rapidly and allows the growing bark to roll into the wound hiding the cut.


Making a flush cut with a saw will cause a mound that will spoil the trunk line.

If you do not own a pair of wen cutters, use a saw but hollow out the cut with a knife or chisel, being careful to cut away from you.

Having made the cut you should cover the wound. There are 'Cut wound' pastes available from Bonsai suppliers and they are well worth the effort of obtaining as they contain substances that promote bark growth, however the bottom line is that anything that will keep out fungus spoors will do the job. This usually means a paint of some sort.

When tidying up the trunk, after removing a major branch, try to get the main axis of the cut running up the trunk. This allows the rising sap to heal the wound quicker than a horizontal cut, which creates a 'dead' area above the cut, killing the bark there and increasing the time it takes for the bark to roll over the wound.

Allen. C. Roffey 15:05 23/01/2003