The Trunk

The trunk is what makes the bonsai, it gives it both its grace and power. When choosing a bonsai or material for conversion always get the best trunk you can, one with good taper and branches leaving the trunk all around the tree.

The Roots, as they leave the trunk should be exposed. This gives the impression of a powerful tree anchored into the ground, rather than a stick poked into the ground. This root flare is called 'Nebari' and as with the branches the roots should radiate away from the trunk like the spokes of a wheel.

Nebari on a Beech Bonsai.


Developing the trunk

The best place to develop a trunk is in the ground, and the best method is the 'Clip and Grow' technique.

This involves allowing the tree to grow unhindered for a couple of years, the tree is then lifted from the ground the roots are pruned to keep them close to the tree. You should then cut off the top of the tree at a point above a bud, sealing the cut with either Cut wound paste if available, or paint.

Conifers differ in so far as the top should be removed above a small branch, as removing all the foliage will kill the tree. The branch should be wired upward and allowed to grow on, removing the wire before it bites into the expanding tree.

The tree is then replanted and watered with a fungicide.

This process is repeated several times (It's well worth the wait), and you will end up with a really good trunk. Then you can develop the branches.

The process in action




You can reduce the height of an overtall tree, and at the same time increase it's taper by removing the top of the tree above a suitable branch and wiring the branch upward to produce a new head for the tree. You then have the choice of either removing the unwanted top or jinning it.

The bottom of the trunk, perhaps the bottom 2/3 should be visible. Remember it's the trunk that gives the tree it's stature and hiding it would be a mistake.


Trees with two leaders look unnatural. If you have such a tree you should consider turning the taller of the two into a jin

On occasion you may have to make some serious cuts into the trunk. This is covered in greater depth in the section on removing branches however such wounds if treated correctly will heal well.

The plastic pots contain fertiliser.

Here we see a 65 year old Zelcova developed from a stump, a nice bonsai but.....................................................

A closup of the trunk and we see a number of hollows (uro) where trunks have been removed to lower the height of the tree. On removal the creator thought it would be a good idea to hollow them out. OK so this breaks one of the major tenets of bonsai in that trees should not show 'The hand of man'.

Secondly the hollows created allow water to pool and act as a host for rot and fungus to thrive.


This trunk realy adds to the 'presence' of the tree.


Allen. C. Roffey Monday, June 25, 2018 10:27 PM