Dead wood is, all trees or trees of age have branches or trunks that have been, have died away, and they tend to look kind of gnarled and distorted in the way they appear. Dead wood adds a lot of character to trees and to the human mind, dead wood signifies age in a tree so when we see trees with a lot of dead wood or decaying branches and dead branches and branches that have bared the weather and what have you, we think of them as old trees, and in bonsais, one of the primary aims of bonsai is to try and make it look old and while creating of dead wood is a more advanced technique, it’s something that you can start off with and build on your trees as you go along. The biggest problem with dead wood is that it has a certain shelf life. It does decay and and wear away so creating excessive amount of dead wood on a tree can deteriorate or reduce the life span of a tree quite significantly so be aware of that before attempting to create dead wood.
You can use techniques to stay off the decay of dead wood by treating it with perhaps lime sulphur or wood hardener or other kinds of conditioners but that’s only delaying the inevitable. There are effectively three types of dead wood on a tree. The easiest and simplest to create are Jins. Jins are primary branches that have been broken away and have been weathered by time and age and they are little stubs on the trunk and they look quite pleasing and interesting especially on some trees, especially conifers and junipers where they tend to hang around for quite a long time. You also have branches of Shari which is perhaps a branch at the top of the tree has been hit by lightning and with time, the leaves have fallen off, the bark has fallen off and what’s left is just the inner wood of the branch, and it weathers with the sun and the rain and what have you and starts looking quite nice.
We then have Ori which is these very same dead branches which have been attacked by insects or fungus or whatever else and it’s made a hole that has progressed into the trunk of the tree. You finally have Shari which is just dead wood on the tree and usually that starts from the bottom of the tree and rises up to quite high into the tree, and it’s common in Junipers and Pines where you have veins of a root that feed a particular branch. The branch has died away or the root has died away in the soil and because of that, the branch has died away and the Shari rises all the way up the tree and you can see with time, it ages with the Sun and weather and it looks very nice because eventually all the detailed structure of the trunk is exposed to nature.