The Trident Maple

Updated: Oct 8, 2020


As I was preparing for my apprenticeship in Japan, there was some big decisions to be made.  I had about 15 or so Bonsai trees and nowhere to keep them during my absence.  I had to make the tough decision to sell most of them and ended up keeping only 4 trees.  Boon Manakitivipart was kind enough to keep those four trees for me while I was away.  As I worked at Aichien, I’ve often though about the trees I’ve kept, reminiscing how great it’s going to be when I can get back and work on them again.  Months past and soon years and the memories of the trees faded deeper in the back of my mind.

Having come back home only two months ago (so much has happened since!), I see the trees right in front of me and  it’s time to continue where I left off.  In this post I will be sharing the continued story of one of those trees that I left.  Now that we are reunited again, I look forward to our continued journey together.

A Bit of History


I purchased this tree in 2009 and it actually had quite a bit of branching on it.  Not so much looking at the above picture though.  I decided to keep this tree because it’s one of the biggest Trident Maples I’ve seen.  It has decent taper and a pretty good root spread (buried in the soil).  One of the things that bugged me about this tree was that all the branches were too skinny.  Especially the lower branches.  Since I’m going to be away for a while, I thought it would be a good idea to repot the tree into this large 24in x 24in (61cm x 61cm) box, cut off many of the branches back and allow new branches to run so that it can thicken the main branches.  The height of the tree is 26 (66cm) inches and the root spread is 15 inches (38cm).

Well, not much to look at after the cut of 2011.  It’s okay though because little did I know, I would be receiving a massive dose of deciduous tree training in the coming years at Aichien.  See  you in five years tree!  …or so I though…

August 2013


Two and a half years past and I’m back in California carrying this heavy Trident Maple again!  Well, it looks like the tree grew some! I talked to Boon about its growth and he said he cut some of the branches back at one point because the branches were so long and taking up too much bench space!  Importantly though, he kept the main runners to keep thickening those skinny main branches.


The Four Sides





Since the tree is so bushy, it’s a bit deceiving and we tend to make the assumption that there are lots of branches.  This is the main reason deciduous trees are best shown without the leaves so that we can see the branch structure.  Leaves can hide many faults.



The Four Sides without the leaves (after some cutting)