Black pine top sacrifice branch elimination

Hi jonas .
i m a french reader of your exelent blog
i have a question about black pine top sacrifice branch elimination
why do you flat cut it and not make a jin ?
I m sure there is a reason but i c ant see it …

Hi Fabien - good question. In general, sacrifice branches exist only to thicken the trunk. In these cases, when the trunk reaches the desired size, the sacrifice branch is removed. Why not keep it for jin?

  • Black pines typically aren’t known for their deadwood. Pine wood is more soft than juniper wood. Because the wood is soft, large jins cannot convey age because over time deadwood on black pine rots away.
  • Sacrifice branches are typically straight. The best deadwood has interesting movement that conveys harsh growing conditions and/or injury to the tree. It can be hard to add character to a tree with straight jins.
  • Sometimes very small jins are left after removing escape branches to help the wound close. This is more common after removing large branches than it is after removing smaller ones. I’ve done this before but I don’t have enough experience to say whether or not it makes much of a difference.

That said, there are cases when it makes sense to leave some jin, either because it looks good or because it may slow down dieback. If you’re curious about the decision to remove a sacrifice on a specific tree, post a link or photo and we can see if there is anything else going on.

I’d be curious to see if people have good examples of black pines with interesting deadwood - I know they’re out there!

What about using a wood preservative or a hardner?

Thank you for these complete explication
my black pine dont have sacrifice branch they too young… 18 mons old …

Hi Jeff - either of those would help the deadwood stick around longer. If the idea is to create a jin that will be around for a while, or to preserve exposed shari/hollowed trunk, wood hardeners or preservatives are great as long as they don’t dramatically change the color or character of the wood.

If you were going to keep part of the sacrifice as a jin, you’d want to plan ahead so that it isn’t just a ridiculous large straight stick. Adding shari on it, bending it into an interesting shape or other things would make it a more interesting jin afterward. There are certainly black pine with jin on them, but the Japanese generally consider them most valuable for their wonderful bark, so jin are not a normal feature.