I was browsing through the Lee Valley gardening site (again) recently
and came across the Rooter Pot.
This system is a much simplified and easier propagation system called
"air layering". Basically it allows you to make clones of existing
plants, shrubs and trees and allows you to obtain in 8 weeks a
duplicate that would take 3 years from seed or a cutting.
This sounds like a very cool thing to do, and has me wondering - what
trees would be the best candidates for cloning? Are you best off
wandering the woods until you find a "perfect" specimen?...or do
environmental factors play such a large role that merely eyeballing a
tree won't really tell you much? I figure if I'm (someday, maybe)
going to clone some trees, I might as well clone the *best*.
Anyone done this? Any good sources of info?
Also, is it poor form to use "long" links, like above?
Or is it worse form to use a tinyurl that disguises the ultimate
When I was a kid (teenager) we had an old Rubber plant, (you know the
big dark green leaves that people often use for house plants) that got
too big for the living room so it was relagated to the greenhouse.
Someone had taught me how to "air layer" and I must have "cloned" at
least 25 or thirty new plants from that old thing over a period of 3 or
4 years. They made great "house gifts" and the neighbors and friends
thought they were great! It also kept me from doing something silly on
Saturday afternoons. It's a good project for kids.
I would think that you would want to find the biggest and oldest tree
you could, not necessarily looking for good appearance, since that
tends to be a factor of environment. A tree that has survived a couple
of hundred years of bugs, drought, fire and what have you is likely to
have pretty sound genetics.
It is actually nice if you do both.
You have a good point about tree survival. However, I am not convinced the
method for selecting for survival is independent of timber quality.
In my locale, we have white pine for example. Some trees go straight up for
three logs before the main trunk branches. Others go one log or less before
splitting. In the old day's, it is easy to imagine that the split trunk
ones were left in favor of cutting the good straight ones. Today, the
majority of white pine I see have split trunks below the second log.
If you think about it, there are few environmental factors that will
consistently cause 10 to 20 foot pine trees to send up split tops in every
It is my opinion that the split trunk trait is a genetic variation. The
logging process has gone on now for more than one generation of trees (300+
years). I am forced to conclude that we have been slowly selecting our
forests for poorer quality timber.
Ideally you would be able to get the best of both worlds - long
lasting as well as straight and large growth. I agree with your
theory about us culling the strong and leaving the weak though. I've
got to figure that tree farmers have studied this pretty
heavily...maybe I'll do a more detailed google search to see what I
It's a possibility, but I wouldn't discount the fact that split tops
are a liability for longevity. Once we logged out all the old growth
that had survived (age naturally culling the split tops when they were
several hundred years younger), we started seeing the normal
propensity toward split tops. Let a stand of white pine grow for
300-500 years and let me know how many of the survivors have split
Not to be too critical but so far this thread is like a bunch of guys
stomping around in the woods with muzzle loaders wondering about the
latest designs in log houses. Hopefully they will finally find a road
and be amazed at saw wood and plywood construction of houses. People
have been "cloning" plants for a long time but the usual term is
"vegetative propagation" and it's pretty common. Tree farming has
also been around for a while and they pretty much know what they are
doing, at least with conifers in the west. (That's not a hit on any
other part of the country as tree farms are pretty extensive in the
south) You might just want to check some of the info available from
your state department of forestry or the U.S. Forest Service.
On Mon, 09 Aug 2004 05:12:22 GMT, "George E. Cawthon"
......and in reply I say!:
remove ns from my header address to reply via email
And the non-critical part is?
I found it interesting and learnt some stuff. If tree cloning was so
boring, then there would not be so many sites on the web about it,
teaching people who do not work for tree farms.
It's not the milk and honey we hate. It's having it
rammed down our throats.
Heh - I've done that in South Carolina toting around a .270 before.
Damn near shot myself right out of the treestand. Scope-eye, the
whole deal. I remember thinking "damn, how'd that deer blood get all
the way up here?!"
Yeah, it's pretty big in parts of South Carolina. I'm assuming they
do it with hardwoods as well. I know that "lyptus" is plantation
raised. I guess I've just never seen an oak farm or something like
Interesting header, "proposed a theory" Hardly. There isn't any non
critical part. "Too" is an adverb and "not too" means not to
intense. Glad you found it interesting, but no one said it was
boring, just fairly common knowledge, speaking as a botanist. By the
way, most horticulturist and botanists of all stripes are not employed
by tree farms.
Old Nick wrote:
That can't be true for plants (at least not in its generality). There are
many plants that are not fertile, and can only be propagated by taking
cuttings (=cloning). Yet the "progeny" lives far longer than the original
plant ever did or could. Sorry that I can't give an example, just go to
any respectable nursery/tree grower.
Well, think about it.
The cells involved in plant budding and growth are the equivalent of stem
cells. Differentiation comes later, as does the plant equivalent of
programmed cell death - creating heartwood or bark.
I don't think that's as true for plants as it is for animals.
Some plants will revert to juvenile type ofter air layering,
or after severe pruning. For example, some rhodies will not
flower from old wood, but if pruned almost to a stump, the
new growth will flower like crazy.
But what do I know, my oldest air layer is only about 10 years
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