Starting Up

  Plant List & Climate


   Bonsai Gallery

   Plant Care

   Useful Tips

   Bonsai Terms


    Accent Plants

    Elm Seedling Steps

    Indoor vs Outdoor

    Yamadori Bonsai

   Contact Us
























Palomino Valley, Nevada  ©1983

Yamadori are naturally dwarfed trees - "in the wild."
High Sierras, Nevada. Home of High Altitude Junipers. The valley at Reno, Nevada is approximately 5000 feet above sea level. A small mountainous area north of Reno, Palomino Valley, where wild mustangs roam in open range is where some of the country's most rugged plants thrive.

High altitudes with low oxygen content challenge plants like people, especially in over 100 degree hot days alternating with cold desert nights in summer. Then, there is deep snow, freezing temperatures, and biting winds crossing the Sierra Nevadas from the West. As in the above photo, the area is rocky too, yet scrubby junipers eek out an existence from within small pockets and fissures in hard volcanic rock (example below). When these photos were taken, bonsai wasn't an idea in what we were observing, but nature was; barren, broken, dry, green needles and dead wood, undisturbed.

Dead wood when old and weathered turns a light gray to white reminiscent of beached driftwood. The practice of bonsai utilizes this aged wood concept to aid in the design of ancient looking trees. Likewise, any trait in a tree that is synonymous with the aging process is copied in the making of bonsai. The esthetic is of grace, strength, and endurance.

Inhospitable? In the flat valley floor north of Reno, everything about the land is out of the ordinary. This is a testing ground for survival of the fittest horticulture! Hardly any water in the surrounding hills in summer... an occasional rain.. streams have dried back to their underground tables.

Adverse conditions cause spectacular twists, turns, and forms in trees; often an overall effect is stunted growth or Yamadori. Some of Nevada's gnarled trees are ancient monuments to many decades of time if not centuries. Any naturally dwarfed tree is YAMADORI. It starts to become a bonsai when carefully dug (often over a period of time) and planted into a transitional container where it can recuperate from the change and have time to strengthen before training and transfer into a bonsai pot.

Just left of center on the rock wall is a Juniper Yamadori. Collecting this specimen would be a good challenge.
Close-up of small Yamadori.