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Multiple apex-arch branched domes


               There are several distinctive tropical trees structural forms.  Eucalyptus in "Learning from Nature #1" tend to grow vertically.  In closely planted forests, trunks tend to be fairly straight and there are relatively few branches.  There's a strong single apical growth and even older trees don't have much of a crown. If these trees had more branches, they would have a "SINGLE APEX - ARCHED BRANCH" structure.

                In contrast, Monkeypods have a heavy crown with stout trunks.  Leaves tend to be on the outer edges of the canopy.  Seedlings grow upwards with a single apical growth, but if nipped, two apical leaders develop.  If you chop it down close to the ground several trunks quickly form.  Trunks seem to divide and there are many upward growing branches that form a rounded crown.  Monkeypods usually have "MULTIPLE APEX - ARCHED BRANCH" structures. 

Monkeypod1Kapiolani.jpg (49142 bytes)        Photo #1:   A relatively young Monkeypod about 15-20 years old frames the beautiful new Kapiolani Park Bandstand in Waikiki. Here there are popular  weekly free concerts by the Royal Hawaiian Band and the 20'-25' tall trees provide a nice dappled shade.   Note that the trunk of a young tree has smooth gentle curves and if you were to cut a branch or trunk, the cut would be almost a perfectly round circle.  The base of the tree is thickest and the section beyond the division point is thinner after each division.   "Trunk-branch taper" and "branch ramification" are two things to consider in creating bonsai. Notice that all foliage is only at the branch ends to form a leafy canopy.   
Monkeypod2Moanalua.jpg (32343 bytes)         Photo #2:  This is obviously a much older tree, perhaps 65 to 90 years old. It sits between freeways near Moanalua Gardens in Honolulu, and even when it was young, it was cut back hard and this produced multiple trunks. When the highway was constructed in the 1960's the tree was again very drastically pruned and this created angular trunks and dramatic trunk taper.  In bonsai, several drastic prunings will create the most interesting dramatic trunks.  
Monkeypod3LiliukalaniHilo.jpg (31271 bytes)         Photo #3:  A 25-40 year old tree growing near one of the entrances to Hilo's Liliuokalani Park branches fairly near the ground and again and again to form a wide multiple apex - arched branch structure. Imagine the shape if the trunk was buried up to the branches to create a multiple trunked tree or a multiple tree grouping.
Monkeypod4HiloWeldingDetail.jpg (31402 bytes)         Photo #4:  Tropical trees grow quickly under ideal conditions and this tree in Hilo has two large trunks that are fusing or welding together where branches stayed in contact.  Again, note that fast-growing young trees would have a round cross section if you cut through the trunk or branches.
Monkeypod5HiloBranch1.jpg (33232 bytes)         Photo #5: Looking up into the branches of the tree in photo #4, the left side branches divide into attractive patterns and are relatively compact because of another nearby tree. In the same manner, when looking up into a mature well-trained bonsai, you should see an interesting branch pattern and a change in size each time the trunk or branch divides.
Monkeypod6HiloBranch2.jpg (35831 bytes)         Photo #6: Looking up at the right side branches of the same tree.  Note that branches are longer as the branched stretched towards the light as there were no nearby trees on this side.  There is less angularity and taper.  By studying natural trees, you'll be able to more effectively prune your bonsai.
MonkeypodLiliukalaniCanopy.jpg (12621 bytes)         Photo #7:  An older tree in Hilo's Liliuokalani Gardens has a maturing low dome canopy. Monkeypods are not shade tolerant and need a lot of space and light.
Monkeypod+FicusHilo.jpg (15988 bytes)         Photo #8.  A large banyan and Monkeypod on the grounds of the Church of Latter Day Saints in Hilo.  If planted near or under the crown of a larger tree, the trunk and branches of the Monkeypod will grow away from the large tree seeking the light. Trees that are not shade tolerant are difficult to train in forest-type groupings.   
Monkeypod7Suisan.jpg (31934 bytes)         Photo #9:  A old tree in Hilo in front of Suisan Fish Market.   In the background is the photo 4, 5, and 6 tree with an almost flattened crown.  Monkeypod trees are usually 50% wider that they are tall.
Monkeypod8Suisan.jpg (33703 bytes)         Photo #10: The old tree is festooned with ferns and other epiphytes.  By now, you should understand the differences between young and old trees.  Although a bonsai will develop into a general shape in a few years, creative pruning will keep that overall size. From time to time, it is necessary to cut back branches to keep them from overgrowing and older branches take on a knarled appearance. 
MonkeypodSuisan3Detail.jpg (14224 bytes)         Photo #11:  Another view of the branching. If pruning is done carefully, more interesting branch patterns and branch taper are developed each year and when looking up into the branches of a well trained bonsai, you'll be able to enjoy very complex interesting patterns.  Note that there is only a single layer of foliage at the outer ends of the branches.  This is a characteristic of a tree that has a very low shade tolerance. 
MonkeypodSuisan4Detail.jpg (14213 bytes)         Photo #12:  New growth will be strongest where there is the most light and branches that are shaded die and rot off.  This natural pruning creates large contrasting branch sizes that are typical of an older tree. A well-trained bonsai will not appear to change once the basic shape is developed. To develop the skills for maintaining old bonsai, study the branch patterns of old trees. 
MonkeypodPunaHongawanjiBranches.jpg (17863 bytes)       Photo #13: On the grounds of the Puna Hongawanji a venerable Monkeypod keeps stretching and reaching towards the light.  From this photographic angle, the branch is shortened and this emphasises branch taper and ramification.  Note that the lowest branch is stretching towards the light.  If the tree was growing in an open field in deep soil, branches would sag and eventually be lying on the ground. From a distance, the tree would appear to be a wide dome with no trunk visible.
MonkeypodPunaSideView.jpg (14555 bytes)      Photo #14:   The same tree seen from a distance. The tree is three to four times wider than it is tall.  In bonsai, in depicting such a low and wide tree, it may be preferable to utilize artistic license and build a rocky mound to raise up the tree to allow easier viewing of the details.  A wide round pot with rotation may be desirable.  If planted in an oval or rectangular pot, over time, there's a tendency for the bonsai to become lop-sided rather than evenly round. 

                LIGNUM VITAE is another tropical domed tree with a structure similar to Monkeypods.  They tend to be about the same height but have a more open habit and do not spread out as wide.

LignumVitae1.jpg (26122 bytes)         Photo #15: Some trees are single trunks that split into branches which split into smaller and smaller branches with no one section being the dominant apex. This MULTIPLE APEX - ARCH BRANCH structure is a common tropical tree form. 
LignumVitae2.jpg (26644 bytes)          Photo #16:  A close-up of the trunk area of the same tree growing in Hilo Bayfront near the King Kamehameha statue. The entire area was once devastated by tsunamis and no major buildings are allowed.
LignumVitae3.jpg (29214 bytes)         Photo #17:  This tree and the one shown above are about 100' away from each other and although they appear to be very different, they have the same basic structural pattern.   Imagine the trunk of the tree in photo #15 and #16 being buried up to where the branches develop and you'd have a tree similar to this tree.
LignumVitae4.jpg (33899 bytes)         Photo #18:  A closer view of the same tree that is a MULTIPLE TRUNKED; MULTIPLE APEX - ARCH BRANCH structure.  Such tree in bonsai could be created from a single tree cut very close to the ground and multiple growth points trained,  or created from several trees planted together.
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