was writing this post in anticipation of my impending trip to the Bonsai Society of Greater Cincinnati in, um, Cincinnati. And, since my workshop was on a BRT, and since I had just worked on one and took photos, well, you know, I had photos that now needed words to make sense of them, I guess, and something for the Cincy students to look at before I got there. And, before I confuse you more, I think we should begin with the post…… 

 I did all the work a few weeks ago now, and had planned on publishing before June 17th but I just couldn’t manage it. I got sick again. I didn’t really know how sick. Here I am arriving at the hospital (Orlando Regional Medical Center). I had been sitting on my couch for a week previously.       Exciting. My home-away-from-home. 

I like trees better.   Brazilian Raintrees are in the legume family, which means that the fruiting body tends to be in the form of a bean of some kind. It also means that the leaves are compound. Those little dealies that look like leaves are called leaflettes. This whole structure is the leaf.    Before I repot a BRT (as it shall now be abbreviate henceforth), I will usually defoliate the whole tree. This time I will try to keep all the leaves attached in a misguided attempt at making a pretty tree for the after shot. Let’s see how that works out. 

I’ll be throwing out advice and technique as I go, just like I’m giving a demo, so pay attention now or you’ll have to pay for it later. 

There are generally only two types of BRT’s out there for purchase. Those grown from seed (which tend to have larger leaves, larger thorns, longer internodes and less of that muscled bark/trunk characteristic that has come to identify the original American grown BRT’s. And they flower/fruit, obviously. I believe that the one I’m working on is this kind.    The main clues I see are the round trunk, and the surface roots are ugly, like they grew from seed. Let me also point out that the tree is desperately in need of repotting. You can see the roots filling up the spaces. 

The second type of BRT is a direct clone from the original American BRT, which was grown from seed by American/Floridian bonsai originator, Jim Moody. 

The trunks have more character, movement, and muscling we tend to think of with BRT’s.     Little to no flowers/seed, not as evil of thorns, smaller leaflets and internodes. They’ve been propagated through cuttings or airlayers exclusively. 

Need to get to work on this post. My surgery is in less than 8 hours. 

The tree is currently in a Sarah Raynor pot.   I’m still searching for the best pot for it but I think I’ll go with this one.   I’d like something like this ultimately.    But this one is just too coarse and thick. 

Time for some root work and learnin’     

BRT’s are legumes. Most legumes will enter into a symbiotic relationship with soil living bacteria; the legume gives the bacteria water and sugar and the bacteria gives the legume atmospheric nitrogen.  Each legume has a specific bacteria and a modified root called a “nitrogen fixing nodule” is how you know if your bonsai soil is fertile enough for the bacteria to live.   

Can you see them?  DO NOT confuse these nodules with root knot nematode damage. 

The node is along-side, attached but not a part of the root. 

Root knot nematode damage is a structural piece of the root. 

Whenever I repot a BRT, I will save some of the old soil and add it to the new mix.   Just so I can infect the new soil with that beneficial bacteria.   Now for a few wires and some pruning….which reminds me. When pruning, you need to leave a stub: 

 The BRT has a want or need (which means that I don’t know why) to die back to the next node (area where a bud is present). If I were to prune this nub flush, the branch will die back to the next branch. That’s just the way it goes. If one wants a flush cut, one prunes like above, waits for the dieback, and then go back and cut it flush.     Silly, deciding to wire a tropical tree like this without defoliating. Here’s how it looks, kinda sulky.   One reason this tree is called a “Raintree” is that, when it rains, it gets pouty, like the above pic. Basically, those leaflets close up during rain (or drought, or wiring/repotting etc. some type of stress) and makes the tree look sad. I’m not sure who I was kidding by leaving those branches in leaf and doing the pruning/wiring. It looks like crap. 

And you can’t see the branch structure.  Where are my scissors?!   Now it’s time for bed. I have surgery in less than 7 hours, now. 

The next post should be something special I think. It will be, if all goes well in 6 and 1/2 hours, the three hundredth post on the blog. Three hundred?!! I know, I talk a lot. 

Wish me luck in the morning!

8 thoughts

  1. man you need to get fixed up. Or slow down and let yourself heal. Hope the surgery went ok. Take Care Of Yourself


  2. Hope the surgery goes well and speedy recovery Adam. Hope they straighten out the node and the knot in your tummy for the last time.


  3. I enjoyed your BRT article. I have two BRT’s that I got from Jim Moody in 2000. The trunks have beautiful natural curves. I need to repot this year but may layer them next year. I now live in Tenn. and keep them under grow lights in the winter. They are very hardy trees.
    I look forward to your articles on tropicals.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s