My cork bark elm

Hi Ryan. I have had this cork bark elm seedling for 11 months. In that time is has grown quite a bit. I see that there are three branches coming iff the main trunk. One is getting much thicker than the others. Do I take it off or leave it to build the trunk. I wired the middle one to put shape in it early on and it produced some slwire scars. Not too worried as I believe age will take care of that. Any help to take this tree forward would be greatly appreciated. I am in the San Diego, CA area. Wendy Pollock



I think sooner than later, the 3 branches will end up causing a flaw, bulge and/or inverse taper. One of the three should come off in my opinion. One could argue that the small, left branch (second pic) could be low and small enough not to cause an issue, however.

Generally, I look for a sacrifice branch to be lower, or higher (not adjacent) than the defining branch to help with trunk size and growth speed.

At this point, I would probably leave it until next spring. That will give you time to plan on the branch selection (if any). I can see good reasons to pick any of the three to remove.


I agree with letting it grow until spring as is to gain some trunk thickness. If it were mine, I would then cut out the center branch, wire the lower one with some movement, and then cut the main leader back to about 2 cm above the branch that goes to the left in the second picture. That will become your new leader and you will most likely get a bunch of buds to pop on what is left. At the next repotting, tilt the tree towards the lower branch so the main trunk is at about 30 degree angle from vertical. Continue this type of grow out and prune back to give an alternating structure (with some of the movement forward and back). This will lead to fairly traditional informal upright that will end up being about 2.5 times the height of tree to the branch I said to keep along the main trunk line.

If a bud pops from the leaf below that upper branch/new leader, I would think about making that the new leader and cutting back even further.


Hi @Wendyp1213,

I think what you have there is a coast live oak, rather than a cork bark elm.
That said, coast live oak are one of my favorite species to work with!
An alternate approach would be to start with the roots which are at this point unknown. You may have a large tap root that will be more of a challenge to deal with later and will inhibit the development of the surface roots. If you do some heavy root work in the spring you could set this tree up for a really nice nebari.



Great eye, I believe your right! I passed right by the type of tree and was focused on the structure.

You are correct that it is an oak. I was not thinking when I posted this (embarrassing) but I do think it is cork bark as the person I got it from grows them exclusively. Thank you for the correction.
I also agree with you about working it in the spring and working on the roots.
Appreciate the help.