Choosing the Front of a Tree
Creating Trunk Taper with a Shari

Taper is a very important element of a beautiful bonsai tree. Trunk taper gives a tree balance and a stable stance. Branch taper keeps the proportion of a tree intact and aesthetically pleasing.

Unfortunately, trunk taper is something that all bonsai hobbyists struggle with. Many trees, unless they are trained throughout their growing years may eventually have a little bit of reverse taper. This is caused by bar branches or too many branches in one location on the trunk. It can also be caused by multiple branches appearing at the top of the tree.

Generally, reverse taper is prevented by cutting off branches that are the source of the problem. However, if the tree is already older and reverse taper has already appeared on a tree, you can create a shari to give the illusion of taper. A shari is created by carving out live cambium on a trunk to expose deadwood. Since the deadwood is lighter in color, you can carve a shari at the location of the reverse taper to lessen the intensity of that area.

Just take care to not completely strip the entire live vein from the trunk as you can lose your tree this way. Junipers are great trees to implement this tactic but the technique can be found to be used on many other species of trees.

Next time you find a tree that has a little bit of reverse taper, look a little closer and see if you might be able to carve the section to mask the imperfection.