Ancient Trees of The Sierras

One of the most beautiful treasures of California is without a doubt the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. Littered with twisted conifers full of deadwood and intricate structure, this place is a gold mine for bonsai artists to study and instill into their trees and design principles.

Looking out on the vast wilderness of the Sierras

One of the more sought after species in this area is the Sierra Juniper or Juniperus occidentalis. Known for it’s flaky red-orange bark, battered deadwood and natural curvature it is an excellent specimen to study. The harsh weather and environment of this mountain range is one of the many factors leading towards the interesting appearance of Sierra Juniper; older ones of the species landing themselves around the 3000 year mark you can imagine how breathtaking it is to view them in person.

Famous Sierra fittingly named “Twisted Juniper”

This Sierra Juniper above has been carefully studied and observed by many bonsai artists, hikers and nature enthusiasts over the years. One can’t even fathom what it has been through over the past few thousand years.

Closer look at the spiraling live vein and deadwood

I took it upon myself to venture up the mountain in hopes of viewing a Juniper I spied on the last trip but didn’t have a chance to view up close. Let me say that this small rock climbing expedition was well worth the effort. Upon closer inspection one can really begin to appreciate the spiraling twists of the live vein interacting with the feathered jin and shari.

The Juniper quoted above



Our last tree for this expedition definitely falls into the larger category of things. It’s name is T-Rex and simply put it is amazing and also again quite massive. Here you can see Matt standing next to it gazing at the deadwood for scale.



One of the great things about this tree is how many different examples of jin and shari are scattered throughout. Variously placed within the tree, no two areas of wood are identical.

Is it possible to recreate this? I think not.

3 thoughts on “Ancient Trees of The Sierras

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