The red flowered currant is native to the Portland area and is widely used for landscaping because of its attractive coral-red flowers followed by clusters of dark purple fruits resembling miniature grapes. It goes by the Latin name Ribes sanguineum and I’ve never seen it used for bonsai material before, although I’ve been told it has been tried. I collected this one in the spring of 2008; it was dangling over a road cut made by a logging operation. The root system was partially exposed and it required a fairly long box to contain the roots I was able to get. I potted it in 100% pumice and the box was completely colonized with fine feeder roots when I went to pot up this spring, four years from collection. It has flowered and fruited every ¬†year and what I like about this species is that it has kept most all of the branches that were on it when I collected it. All the curves and contortions in the branches were already there when the tree was collected; I did minimal pruning for shape and of course the angle of the trunk is completely different from what it was on the mountain. This is a big deal when looking for new material for bonsai–finding something that will keep its branches and not kill them off and send up suckers from the trunk. Those types of trees that loose branches and sucker from the trunk are called ‘pioneer’ species and are difficult if not impossible to turn into a bonsai. They should be avoided as they are a waste of time. So, add this species to your list of natives worth working with. Its other pluses are seasonal interest throughout the year as the fruits last well into fall.

Advertisements