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Invasive Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica & associated species) for Bonsai

            It is Could which signifies that timber right here in Ohio have been slowly waking up and
spring is
creeping northward! This additionally means we simply handed one of the best time of yr to
root prune timber for
repotting or for
gathering wild timber
to coach as bonsai. Though gathering wild bonsai is an thrilling technique to
collect prebonsai, many bonsai artists are unable to make the most of this supply of
bonsai materials on account of an absence of entry to public land the place tree assortment
is permitted or some novices with such entry could be too intimidated by
the prospects of killing timber throughout transplanting. One resolution to each of
these points is to coordinate with native governments on eradicating undesirable,
invasive species and try and make the most of these species for bonsai. This
three-part article sequence will cowl a narrative of native collaboration in Ohio
doing simply that. I’m comfortable to report that the Columbus Metro Parks now have
a couple of much less
invasive Japanese
Honeysuckle to fret about and the members of the
Columbus Bonsai Society
have been allowed free entry to digging wild bonsai materials from our native
forests. Moreover, this occasion allowed CBS members to study
about digging wild timber in a guided and hands-on style whereas additionally
practising guilt-free on materials that’s limitless (invasive timber) which
would in any other case be destroyed through the metropolis authorities’s efforts to
preserve native ecosystems.

            Right now’s portion of this 3-part sequence will
deal with the invasive Japanese Honeysuckle and associated
Lonicera species which we collected on the CBS Honeysuckle Dig
occasion final month. Beneath you will see specimen bonsai displaying the potential
of those species and observations from the woods as to which honeysuckle
timber could make good bonsai. Future installments will cowl the membership dig
occasion itself together with important info on the fundamentals of what instruments are
wanted and easy methods to dig from the deciduous forests of Ohio. Lastly, the final
article within the sequence will cowl different invasive species of america
(with hyperlinks to assets for different places around the globe), highlighting
these which have recognized bonsai potential.


            Earlier than we get began I
need to make a fast apart on the advantages of utilizing invasive species for
bonsai. Above I already outlined how they’re helpful to bonsai artists –
a free and countless provide of apply materials. Nonetheless, they might even be
helpful to the setting! First, eradicating invasive species from pure
ecosystems makes room in these ecosystems for native crops to try to
set up. Second, honeysuckle or different invasive species which is pruned to
a 1-2 foot tall bonsai will produce considerably fewer seeds than a
full-grown 8-foot tall honeysuckle left to its personal units within the forest
understory or alongside the freeway. Moreover, as outlined in my older
article “
The Price of Intercourse“, flower and fruit buds can simply be eliminated to stop the seeds from
getting into the setting, thereby making the invasive potential of such
species as bonsai negligible.

            First, belonging to the identical genus doesn’t
robotically make each species equally appropriate for bonsai (see the
number of ficus and maple species), it is due to this fact good apply to be
particular concerning the invasive honeysuckle species which we are able to discover simply in
the US. T
he commonest invasive US honeysuckle species listed beneath all originate
from Asia and Europe, replicate prolifically exterior their native vary, and
are particularly arduous to cull from an ecosystem as soon as they escape cultivation,
thus they’re thought of invasive within the US and lots of different areas (
Supply). Discover the hyperlinks for every species to study extra about their
identification, origin, historical past, and present distribution. A few of the
species beneath are additionally related sufficient to supply hybrids (Supply).
            Maybe due to the countless
provide of invasive honeysuckle hiding in plain sight in North America, the
above species are largely neglected by bonsai artists and these timber are
not frequent in membership reveals or bigger regional/nationwide reveals regardless of their
abundance. Nonetheless, there’s a handful of
honeysuckle bonsai which might be possible examples of the invasive species or
related sufficient in progress behavior that their existence helps the exploration
of those species. 
Andy Rutledge’s honeysuckle pictured on the prime of the article is one such
specimen of unknown species however definitely collected from the US origin,
making it possible one of many invasive species. (In botany, flowers are
often wanted to make an actual identification). 
Different supporting proof of the potential of the Lonicera genus for bonsai is discovered on Walter Pall’s weblog, the place he has
quite a few totally different posts displaying the gathering and refinement of a range
of European honeysuckle species, a few of that are the identical species which might be
invasive in components of the US (
Supply). A 3rd bonsai skilled – Invoice Valavanis – has additionally tried his hand at
US-origin collected honeysuckle to nice impact. His tree can also be pictured
beneath (Supply).
Lonicera periclymenum owned and styled by Walter Pall of
Germany. This species will also be discovered within the US however much less
generally. Supply
Invoice Valavanis’s unknown Lonicera species in flower.

Invoice Valavanis’s unknown Lonicera species in

            Along with using honeysuckle as bonsai, I additionally
lately met an artist and panorama fanatic in Columbus who has pruned
a number of invasive honeysuckle volunteers as landscape-styled timber, or
“niwaki” as they’re known as in Japan. It is good to see that with a little bit
consideration to element, undesirable weeds can turn into a characteristic of the backyard!
See the photographs from Jim’s backyard beneath. He largely created these kinds through
hedge and topiary pruning strategies and Jim is now changing into all in favour of
bonsai and becoming a member of the native membership.

Right here you see the waterfall-esque Japanese honeysuckle subsequent to the trail
in Jim’s backyard.

It is not fairly as magnificent in winter, nevertheless, its nude state
permits us to see how simply the species ramifies, as we are going to focus on
later within the article.

            As with figuring out candidate deciduous yamadori, our hunt
for honeysuckle yamadori hinges on the truth that we are able to prune again the
trunk to convey the main focus of the longer term design to fascinating factors such
as the foundation unfold, deadwood scars, motion within the trunk, and presumably
taper (summarized beneath). Honeysuckles in Ohio usually develop in forest
understories, ensuing of their foliage being too removed from the trunk to
be used within the preliminary design. Due to this fact, such a chopping and
regrowing is probably going required to start out the bonsai course of for honeysuckles
which have already constructed charming trunks, relatively than on the lookout for
naturally stunted honeysuckle which might be a lot rarer to search out. The beneath
timber have been ones I scouted in March earlier than spring began right here in Ohio –
the underbrush of the forest is way simpler to navigate right now of

Search for the next traits beneath and picture how one can design a future
tree from the muse that’s these Honeysuckle trunks.

  1. Root unfold (“nebari” in Japanese)
  2. Trunk motion
  3. Trunk taper + low branching
  4. Deadwood and scaring
Specimen neighboring streams and rivers usually have fascinating floor
roots uncovered, nevertheless digging them up will destabilize the soil on the
financial institution, resulting in erosion. If different choices can be found, it’s higher
to go away these.

There are numerous honeysuckle examples the place the trunks develop straight.
Actually, these can be utilized, however I all the time inform folks I do not need my
entire assortment to be straight timber. Search round for a tree that
evokes you!

Honeysuckles usually kind clumps which lead to trunk swelling on the
base. This will begin as a clumsy ball form however seems to be extra pure
with age corresponding to this instance.

The truth that so many honeysuckles within the forest understory develop
straight makes this one distinctive. It might turn into a slant model.

There are small child honeysuckle with some fascinating shapes too if
you are into a lot smaller bonsai.

This tree has engaging floor roots, structural branches, and trunk

One other one with trunk motion, and low department choices. 

In our deciduous forests, it is not uncommon for timber and branches to fall on
others, serving to to form them. Right here deadwood was created and each the
prime and backside items of the trunk are alive. It might turn into a raft or

One other residing honeysuckle enduring after a tree fall.

            Though we now have already seen some honeysuckle bonsai
above, let’s distill observations of the precise invasive species
specimen that will impression our use of them as bonsai.

IIIA. Capacity to Ramify

            As proven within the footage of the panorama styled Niwaki
Japanese Honeysuckle, the species can simply develop dense branching when
recurrently pruned all through spring and early summer season particularly.

A closeup of honeysuckle ramification in winter. In a bonsai, this
would want some finding out and thinning for aesthetic functions.

IIIB. Response to Trunk Chops

            One capacity I all the time search for in potential species for
bonsai is their capacity to bud again after a trunk chop or harsh pruning as
we frequently should do throughout styling bonsai. Species that don’t bud again
can nonetheless work however have to be labored with extra cautiously, corresponding to by
sustaining low branches on conifers when rising them from seed. This
doesn’t appear to be essential for the Japanese honeysuckle and different
invasive honeysuckles nevertheless as they’re well-known for his or her capacity to
regrow from trunk chops. The one method to absolutely eradicate them is to take away
the roots or apply herbicide on to the chopped trunks.

Right here we see a honeysuckle that was chopped again final summer season and which
sprouted new low branching earlier than fall set in.

IIIC. Wooden Sturdiness/Deadwood

            The sturdiness of honeysuckle deadwood is questionable. Due
to their brittle wooden, lifeless branches often do not stay on the trunk
for lengthy, nevertheless, hollows appear to happen naturally within the wild with no in poor health
results on the timber. I’ve heard in a associated concern that whereas
honeysuckle can kind callous, their callous tissue doesn’t broaden a lot so
a big minimize won’t ever be absolutely hidden with out carving or steps taken to
keep away from this form of pruning.

This closing raft-style honeysuckle additionally reveals engaging deadwood

IIID. Wiring Branches

            A further consideration for honeysuckles have to be that
the branches turn into brittle as soon as they’re thick! Wiring have to be executed
primarily for younger branches. In any other case, you might be higher off using clip
and develop or maybe guy-wiring.

IIIE. Root Techniques

            Lastly, the prevalence of engaging floor roots was
proven above within the photographs from the forest, nevertheless, it’s noteworthy to
add that these honeysuckles have been all very shallowly rooted and straightforward to
dig! It could be on account of their rising setting being a shady
forest understory allowing moist situations and never necessitating a
giant taproot, together with the brittle nature of the wooden making
giant roots straightforward to interrupt through the digging and prying course of.

Honeysuckle Launched Species Observations within the US. (n.d.). INaturalist. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from

Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle). (n.d.). In Invasive Species Compendium. Retrieved Could 4, 2022, from

Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle). (n.d.). In Invasive Species Compendium. Retrieved Could 4, 2022, from

Lonicera morrowii (Morrow’s honeysuckle). (n.d.). In Invasive Species Compendium. Retrieved Could 4, 2022, from

Lonicera tatarica (Tatarian Honeysuckle). (n.d.). North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from

Pall, W. (2008, June 14). Walter Pall Bonsai Adventures: Flowering honeysuckle, elm and maple. Walter Pall Bonsai Adventures.

Rutledge, A. (n.d.). Inventive Foundations of Bonsai Design. Retrieved April 21, 2022, from

Schoech, W. (2017, March 15). Honeysuckle Bonsai – Earlier than & After (& One Small Bonus) | Bonsai Bark.



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