Why I hate Brazilian Raintrees 

One hot and humid afternoon in Jupiter, the legendary Florida bonsai pioneer, Jim Moody, got a packet of seeds in the mail. They were from his sister, we’ll call her Felicitous because I don’t know her name (I’m not sure it was his sister either….bear with me) who happened to be in Brazil seeing the sites, sampling the local fare, dancing with the Carnivale and what not. She had seen an odd and interesting tree and thought, “Gee, Jim likes trees, maybe I’ll find some seeds from this bizarre tree I see before me” so she did and then mailed them to Florida (maybe she was an attaché to the U.S. Diplomat to Brazil. Or perhaps an undercover C.I.A agent searching for evidence that the Soviets were supplying street vendors with counterfeit Gucci purses to cause deflation in the luxury handbag market, hence hastening the totally inevitable transition from cronyism capitalism to cronyism communism. Maybe..)   All this was at a time when the plant/seed import restrictions (as well as Gucci purses) into the U.S. were a bit more lax. 

Anyway, he only had a few seeds from that packet germinate and, of those, only one plant (of which we call now, the Brazilian Raintree) developed that muscled, flattened trunk we think of when we think of a BRT. (Although there are actually two varieties on the market. One with the flattened trunk, which doesn’t flower much, if at all, and a rounded trunk variety that does flower often and sets seed. The first are reproduced asexually through cuttings and air layers. The second is from seed…usually). This tree is of the first kind. 

 I got it from my good friend Mike Cartrett of Palm Beach Bonsai. It was a limb that had broken off a BRT growing in his backyard when Florida experienced the three, back-to-back hurricanes that began with hurricane Charlie. Mike rooted it and a few years later I got it from him, as well as this one from this post:    They were both purchased at the Kawa Bonsai Society’s January show, Joy of Bonsai, usually a good show, depending on the teachers.  

Let’s start listing the negatives of the BRT and why one should hate these trees.   Die back. This is the number one reason. All this deadwood is the result of the BRT’s penchant for a branch, that’s been pruned to no green, dying back into the trunk.  

   As I work, I’ll continue the bashing. Using a knife, I try to define the dead from the live veins.  
 The tree will also dieback from the roots upward (it is very much like a juniper and less like a tropical tree) Which might be why the live vein is only about an inch thick here.  

 It’s a strong vein, even going into the soil.  

 Let’s hope it lives. I’ll need to clean the deadwood and give it some definition. A wire brush attachment on my flex shaft tool is perfect for the job.  

    
   I’m getting some interesting textures on some places but it’s kinda boring in others. I’m rushing the process. I have to get the kids from school soon and, damn it’s beginning to rain. I’ll stop working now and get in my van to get them I have too much on my mind and the wood grain is running through my head and why is it dying back so much and I have to leave for Erik Wigert’s in two days and can I handle my ileostomy by myself, can I handle the workload, the never ending question of how I’m doing, fine and you or you look good or so what happened or are you healing and my phone battery is low and the kids need picking up and here’s a stop sign I stop and I need to plugs be phone  in and next thing I know BANG! 
 And though it looks like blood all over the hood, it’s just transmission fluid.  Might as well be blood. My car is dead. 

 I hit a dump truck and it kinda smeared the front end off the van. Totalled…………………………damn. There’s nothing like a ton of bricks on your mind and then adding one more. Or another . Or two. 

Sigh. 

Getting back to the tree, the next day, I’m not sure I want to continue.    Too much is still going on. But I feel I should finish. 

A dead branch  It’ll die back all the way.    

It started with this pruned branch.  

Did I mention thorns?   BRT’s have mean thorns. 

This one suffered whe I was hospitalised, this is from drying out.  

 The tree has an adaption that, when there’s a drought, it’ll go dormant and basically drop its leaves.  

 And they’re compound leaves too. Annoying things. Hate ’em, they’re  so small, those leaflets. 

I need to defoliate and push some new growth. 

 
And fire   That’ll help clear my mind. Fire cleanses the soul.  
Unfortunately, the ensuing lime sulphur smell lingers. Reminds me that they would throw lime on dead bodies. And sulphur, or sulfur, brimstone, for the devil.   

Who is in the details, or is it God in the details? That’s bizarre. 

 I had put the tree in its current pot last year and I’m wondering if I need to repot. It’s a thing that you have to do to a BRT, repot every year, even the big trees.  

 But not this one. It’s not filled the pot yet with roots. I might regret it in the winter but I’m going to eschew the repot in hopes of growing some stronger roots. 

I will change this rock out though.    The one above came from a railroad track (shhhhhhhhh!!!!!) 

The one below came from Puerto Rico. Not that it matters the origin.   
That’s good. 
 The rock is just there to prop up the mortal remains, much like this blog does for me.  

Just one wire and I’m done with this hated tree. This beloved tree. It’s kept me sane for a bit longer as I take care of it. I wish life were as easy as the known challenges that a Brazilian Raintree poses for me.   Water, fertilize, wire on, wire off. Leave some green and a stub when pruning. You do this and you get this. Musings and ramblings make the prose flow but convey less or more. 

I think I’m done for now, see you next post. 

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
This entry was posted in carving, progression, rare finds, wiring and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why I hate Brazilian Raintrees 

  1. Jeremy says:

    I love this tree. It has a foreboding feel about it — kinda fit the theme of your post well.

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