Trident maple reworking

A trident that has grown too vigorously tends to have the thick, youthful branches that this tree shows. In June, a day before the juniper styling shown in the last post, this tree was pruned for a new structure. It will be defoliated several times a year to develop a more delicate branch ramification.

Before pruning, with wildly growing, thick branches.


A primary feature of this old tree is the fused root base.

The top was cut out, lowering the tree by about 8 inches. The remaining branches will soon be flushed with new shoots, which will be defoliated in about 40 days. This will bring more shoots, so that in one year's time ramification can build exponentially. I will post future photos of this tree as it progresses.

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  1. Tim Gardner says:

    Michael, after it gets defoliated in 40 days and comes back with new growth, what do you do next in this season? Would there be maintenance work to do to the new branches in Fall?


    • crataegus says:


      Trident maple, when grown hard, can be defoliated 3-5 times a summer. Depending on the length of the summer. And sometimes the length of the wait is only about 25-30 days. So the process I described can be repeated multiple times in the hot months. Trident responds very well to heat. But each time the tree is defoliated, there is a chance of wiring it. Be extremely cautious wiring trident maple, however, as the wires will get tight and begin to scar in only a couple of weeks.

  2. Tim Gardner says:

    Lots of work and care. Looking forward to seeing the photos as it progresses. Thanks Michael.


  3. Sam Ogranaja says:

    Hey Michael. I have a trident with pretty nice taper. I was thinking of a broom style because it straight trunk chopped but everywhere I read it looks like the zelkova style (which was my plan) doest suit maples. What’s your opinion on this? Also, (and if you can’t divulge I completely understand) how was that rootbase created?

    I love your blog. Keep up the good work

    • crataegus says:

      Broom does look odd to me as I saw natural growing Tridents in the landscape in Japan and they don’t grow that way. You look at Zelkova street trees and they naturally grow in a broom style. So for my taste, a Trident broom would look odd. But that is just my taste… it need not be yours.
      The Trident I worked on had a great root base, and there are several ways that it could have been created. It is old enough that it is hard to tell. Some root grafting might have been employed, or if there were a lot of fine roots that grew from an airlayer, for instance, they will often fuse quite well and eventually form such a nebari.

  4. fred says:

    michael nice tree and roots ive got a tree with branches in the top half if i chop the top off would it force branches to form lower on tree thanks

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