Cork Bark Ponderosa

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I came across a rare find in the mountains yesterday, a cork ponderosa! I did a quick search to see if anyone has developed any cultivars from these, but no luck so far. I’ve heard that collectors have brought a few home, but I haven’t seen any pictures to date. — (There is one picture of Larry Jackel and Dan Robinson next to a full grown cork ponderosa.) Anyway, here’s the tree. It is not collectible, but it was a very cool find. I will definitely be back in the future to take more pictures and possibly a couple of scions.

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Even the small branches are developing wings. I wish I had taken more photos of the youngest branches, but my battery was dying so I didn’t take the time I should have.
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One could easily be fooled into thinking they had found a cork ponderosa as many can have very impressive bark. But just because there is a lot of great bark doesn’t make it a cork-bark.

There are three types of bark that I regularly encounter in our ponderosa pines here in South Eastern Wyoming. Age and harsh life obviously influence bark development, but there seem to be some differences based on geographic locations (or even micro climates..?). They do overlap to an extent, but in any given area I generally run in to a majority of one of these three variations:

1) Larger, orange colored plates. Can be very thick and deep fissured.
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2) Smaller to medium, dark black/grey rough bark. Can appear quite corky.
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3) Smoother, grey (sometimes a slight orange). This one is smoother and less fissured.
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There are numerous variables that could contribute to these differences, but I see these variations regularly on trees that would experience very similar environmental conditions. All of the above examples are trees collected from rock crevices. I personally like them all; each one has it’s own charm. 🙂

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Speaking of un-collectible trees… Here’s another one I stumbled upon this spring. What an impressive tree! But please, if you find a tree like this that does not promise collection with a viable root mass, don’t collect it! Don’t let greed win over reason and ethics. One of the things I love most about the bonsai community is our respect for awesome trees. We have a responsibility to conservation, just as much as anyone else.

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(Just for clarification, I’m not an expert on cultivars and cork-bark pines. I’m only sharing my observations from seeing thousands of ponderosa pines each year. If anyone has guidelines or classifications for corking pines I’d love to see them.)

Thanks for reading. We’ll be loading more available trees very soon, and the blog will be more active during collecting season, so be sure to stop by! 🙂

Blessings,
Dan