There’s Tom, a good Friend if you know him. He’s still a Friend even if you don’t.

He got himself a bunch of bald cypress seedlings and carved a little wedge out of leftover cherry and thought he’d try some trunk fusion.

I think it’s damn cool. Not only will it create a fat tree quicker, but all that character that’ll come from the fusion marks. I’ll keep you guys up to date on it as it progresses.

I’ve seen the technique done with maple whips and ficus cuttings but this is the first cypress one I’ve seen.

So much potential.

Pretty cool, ain’t it? Anyway, that’s not why I’ve gathered you around your internet screens today. 

I want you to close your eyes……imagine yourself reclining in a form fitted chair, soothing, nondescript music lulling you to sleep as the Novocain begins to numb your face. Now imagine that high speed and high pitched drill bouncing and grinding on your poor bicuspid, and you smell the odor of burning tooth, and choke as your uvula catches the remains of powdered enamel in the back of your throat. Hmmmmmmnnnn.

Now spit.

Sorry. I used this carving tool to make a groove in the trunk of Tom’s crepe myrtle. Why?

I’m sure there are at least two people who are asking this.

“A crepe backbuds like crazy!”, they say, “Why on God’s green earth do you need to graft?”

Well now my skeptical friends, I will give you two answers.

First: crepes, like most deciduous trees, will not throw a bud out on a callous. The science, real quickly, callous tissue is differentiated material, and doesn’t have the meristem cells necessary for bud creation. The place I carved the groove into is a big callous, but it’s just the place he needs a branch. But, unfortunately, he won’t get one. Unless, of course, we go to the heroic measures that will soon be delivered to you from my mobile phone’s keyboard, here in Orlando FL, through the aether of WiFi, into some cables, beamed up into Low Earth Orbit, beamed back down into the millions of receptors designed and allocated for no other reason but to receive my egotistical ramblings within my extremely niche, somewhat readable, but always entertaining personal web log.

Second: why not? It’s an interesting procedure I’m about to perform. Let’s see what happens. We might learn a thing or two.

The only branch long enough to bend and reach the grafting site (this is called an approach graft. I think…) just happens to come from the top of the tree.

Sooooooo…..with a little bending…..

A little more….

Maybe some tape and a zip tie just in case the branch wants to snap at the apex of the bend….

And it’s a fit!!

Another zip tie to hold the branch. Not too tight!

And a sharp knife to score the branch so the cambium layers can match up.

Some loose wire to direct the branch in an upward direction (to get those auxins in the right positions for growth. Crepes are very apically dominant. If your branch isn’t pointing up you’ll tend to lose it. Or it’ll throw a new one. )Auxins (and hormones) are why trees grow.

They are the cause, the computer program, the instructions, the band leader.

When you finally understand this, you can truly figure out why a tree does one thing, or another. Or dies, or stops growing, etc. Hormones are primary.

Energy is the fuel.

The sun, the weather, or the scissor are the road.

Some cut paste to keep moisture in. Some grafting tape for the purpose of applying more pressure on the union. And now, the next question your asking is,

“Why is the grafted branch going down?”

That’s also a two part answer. It’s a “twos”-day it seems.

One, the only branch I had that was long enough and flexible enough came from the top, so it had to go down. It was flexible but not flexible enough for a double bend.

Two, it doesn’t matter which way the original branch is going: all the new growth will grow up from there. It’s a phenomenon called geotropism. A plant tends to grow away from the pull of gravity.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

I’m not sure Tom is convinced yet.

But it’ll….grow…on him. It is a tree, after all.

Trees in bondage indeed.

7 thoughts

  1. Hey Adam,
    Pretty cool… quick question.. any particular reason you didnt do a thread graft instead with the posterior inferior facing branch of the limb above the “area of graft”… (that was a mouth ful!) Just curious… ty!

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  2. Adam,
    “it doesn’t matter which way the original branch is going: all the new growth will grow up from there”
    Are you saying that the graft at some point after the fusion and the cut, it will reverse course and begin to grow up the branch (what used to be ‘down’)?

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    1. It can. But also, even if a bud is there already, and it’s pointing straight down, it will grow up.
      I’ve taken a crepe myrtle cutting, turned it upside down and stuck it in the soil. The new growth came from the “bottom” of the cutting where one would think roots should come from

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  3. Adam.
    I’m very interested in the bald cypress trunk fusion. Is the process just a matter of tie wrapping the seedling trunks together, or are there other things to consider?

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    1. That’s pretty much it. Though you may need to add more wraps in the future to different areas. Some of the trees may grow slower than the others or vice versa and try to push out parts of the trunks.

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