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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Enjoying New Leaves - But Not Spring Leaves

     About a month ago, this parrot's-beak (Gmelina philippensis) was exposed to temperatures a little below freezing for a number of hours, after I put too much confidence in the overnite weather forecast. The species is tropical. The tree itself survived, but all its leaves were frost-nipped and lost.

New leaves have been coming in - I was quite relieved when the first ones appeared - and I find their fresh light- and medium-green color quite enjoyable!  It's like a foretaste of spring; but under false pretenses, one might almost say, since this species doesn't normally shed its leaves every year.

Parrot's-beak (Gmelina philippensis). Picture taken yesterday under a porch roof.
Picture taken today in late afternoon, open sky overhead.
A closer look, to see more shades of green
Gmelina philippensis (the initial G is silent) is native from the Philippine Islands westward to India. In its native range it sometimes grows as a woody climber, as does bougainvillea. Also like bougainvillea, it is spiny, tho the spines are small and I have yet to have one break the skin. The yellow flowers resemble parrots' beaks, hence the English common name.

I've had this tree for almost 6 years now. It's been doing well in medium-grade bonsai soil and with medium water; it seems to do best in full sun at my latitude (just over 41° North.) The species has been described as "leaf-dense," and I've found that accurate. That makes it easy to shape an attractive canopy. On the other hand, the thin bark wounds easily and any wound seems to take half of forever to heal over. Clip-and-grow seems to be the best technique for shaping parrot's-beak, with wire used only with considerable care and vigilance.

:-)  :-)  :-)


  1. Nice little tree. I've never heard of the species before--imagine they are hard to get?

    1. Thanks!

      I don't know where you are, but I got mine from Eagle Creek Bonsai in Indianapolis; Scott Yelich specializes in tropicals. Another source that I can recommend, based on my own dealings with them, is Wigert's Bonsai. Click on the link in my right-hand sidebar and it will take you to their site. Good prices at both those vendors.