This Manzanita is growing on a granite ledge on a rise just before you drop down into Yosemite valley. The others shown below are from the same general area. All the photos were taken by Amy Palmer, during a Sierra hiking and tree identification trip that Amy and I just returned from.
Pervasive, beautiful, and seemingly perfect for bonsai
Whenever I go into the California Coast range or the Sierras, I’m struck by the Manzanitas. Not only are they eye catching in ways few plants are (the photos speak for themselves) but many appear to be near perfect for bonsai with squat trunks, small leaves and more than their fair share of character. And, they are practically everywhere. To be sure some are too big (there are over fifty species of Manzanita) but many, if not most, varieties look ready made bonsai.
Where are all the Manzanita bonsai?
My guess is that manzanitas just don’t take to bonsai culture. But, it’s just a guess. Or maybe there are some great manzanita bonsai that have been hiding from me. Perhaps one of you lucky enough to live in mazanita country can clue me in.
The fairly short grasses give you some idea just how squat and powerful this trunk is. No need to point out the dramatic interplay of deadwood and the trademark slick red bark.
Same tree as above. It stands about five feet high.
Another powerful little trunk. It looks like soil around the base of the trunk, but really it’s almost all granite. What appears to be soil is just some organic matter that has dropped off the tree or been blown around the base of the trunk by the wind.
We shot this one to give you some idea of just how much deadwood an old manzanita can have. Notice the two thin live veins that support the entire tree.