Bonsai Info – English
Bonsai (help·info) (盆栽 Chinese, Japanese) (lit. plantings in tray, from bon, a tray or low-sided pot and sai, a planting or plantings) is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. Similar practices exist in other cultures, including the Chinese tradition of penjing and the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese hòn non bộ. The Japanese tradition dates back over a thousand years, and has evolved its own unique aesthetics and terminology.
‘Bonsai’ is a Japanese pronunciation of the earlier Chinese term penzai (盆栽). A ‘bon’ is a tray-like pot typically used in bonsai culture. The wordbonsai is often used in English as an umbrella term for all miniature trees in containers or pots, but this article focuses on bonsai as defined in the Japanese tradition.
The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation (for the viewer) and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity (for the grower). By contrast with other plant cultivation practices, bonsai is not intended for production of food, for medicine, or for creating yard-sized or park-sized gardens or landscapes. Instead, bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees in a single container.
A bonsai is created beginning with a specimen of source material. This may be a cutting, seedling, or small tree of a species suitable for bonsai development. Bonsai can be created from nearly any perennial woody-stemmed tree or shrub species which produces true branches and can be cultivated to remain small through pot confinement with crown and root pruning. Some species are popular as bonsai material because they have characteristics, such as small leaves or needles, that make them appropriate for the compact visual scope of bonsai.
The source specimen is shaped to be relatively small and to meet the aesthetic standards of bonsai. When the candidate bonsai nears its planned final size it is planted in a ceramic bonsai pot. From that point forward, its growth is restricted by the pot environment. Several times a year, the bonsai is shaped to limit growth, redistribute foliar vigor to areas requiring further development, and meet the artist’s detailed design.
The practice of bonsai is sometimes confused with dwarfing, but dwarfing more accurately refers to research and creation of plant cultivars that are permanent, genetic miniatures of existing species. Bonsai does not require genetically dwarfed trees, but rather depends on growing small trees from regular stock and seeds. Bonsai uses cultivation techniques like pruning, root reduction, potting, defoliation, and grafting to produce small trees that mimic the shape and style of mature, full-sized trees.
The most common styles include formal upright, informal upright, slanting, semi-cascade, cascade, raft, literati, and group/forest. Less common forms include windswept, weeping, split-trunk, and driftwood styles.
- The formal upright style, or Chokkan
is characterized by a straight, upright, tapering trunk. Branches progress regularly from the thickest and broadest at the bottom to the finest and shortest at the top.
- The trunk and branches of the informal upright style, or Moyogi
incorporate visible curves, but the apex of the informal upright is always located directly above the trunk’s entry into the soil line. Similar to the formal upright style, branches generally progress regularly from largest at the bottom to smallest at the top, although this progression may be broken where the irregular shape of the trunk would make a branch abnormally prominent or obscure.
- Slant-style, or Shakan
bonsai possess straight trunks like those of bonsai grown in the formal upright style. However, the slant style trunk emerges from the soil at an angle, and the apex of the bonsai will be located to the left or right of the root base.
- Cascade-style, or Kengai
bonsai are modeled after trees which grow over water or on the sides of mountains. The apex, or tip of the tree in the Semi-cascade-style, or Han Kengai
bonsai extend just at or beneath the lip of the bonsai pot; the apex of a (full) cascade style falls below the base of the pot.
- Raft-style, or Netsuranari, bonsai mimic a natural phenomenon that occurs when a tree topples onto its side, for example, from erosion or another natural force. Branches along the top side of the trunk continue to grow as a group of new trunks. Sometimes, roots will develop from buried portions of the trunk. Raft-style bonsai can have sinuous, straight-line, or slanting trunks, all giving the illusion that they are a group of separate trees—while actually being the branches of a tree planted on its side.
- The literati style, or Bunjin-gi
bonsai is characterized by a generally bare trunk line, with branches reduced to a minimum, and typically placed the top of a long, often contorted trunk. This style derives its name from the Chinese literati who created Chinese brush paintings like those found in the ancient text, The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting. Their minimalist landscapes often depicted trees growing in harsh conditions, with contorted trunks and reduced foliage. In Japan, the literati style is known as bunjin-gi. (Bunjin is a translation of the Chinese phrase wenren meaning “scholars practiced in the arts” and gi is a derivative of the Japanese word, ki, for “tree”).
- The group or forest style, or Yose Ue, comprises a planting of several or many trees, and typically an odd number, in a bonsai pot. The trees are usually the same species, with a variety of heights employed to add visual interest and to reflect the age differences encountered in mature forests.
- The broom style, or Hokidachi
is employed for trees with extensive, fine branching, often with species like elms. The trunk is straight and upright. It branches out in all directions about 1/3 of the way up the entire height of the tree. The branches and leaves form a ball-shaped crown which can also be very beautiful during the winter months.
- The multi-trunk style, or Ikadabuki, has all the trunks growing out of one spot with one root system, and it actually is one single tree. Its counterpart in nature is the tree clump formed, for example, where a single pine cone has sprouted a number of seedlings in one spot. All the trunks combine to support one crown of leaves, in which the thickest and most developed trunk forms the top.
- The Shari style, or Sharimiki, style involves portraying a tree in its struggle to live while a significant part of its trunk is bare of bark. In nature, trees in the Sharimiki style are created by lightning or animals eating the bark.
- The root-over-rock style, or Sekijoju, is a style in which the roots of the tree are wrapped around a rock. The rock is at the base of the trunk, with the roots exposed to varying degrees as they traverse the rock and then descend into the soil below.
- The growing-in-a-rock, or Ishizuke, style means the roots of the tree are growing in soil contained within the cracks and holes of the rock. The rock may serve as a simple container, with the tree escaping the container and forming its own shape. Alternatively, the tree may show a definite relationship to the rock’s shape, growing close to the rock and following its contours.
Found on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonsai
Size classifications: exact sizes for each individual class varies from one authority to another; those below are taken from the 20th Grand View Bonsai Exhibition / Nippon Bonsai Taikan-ten.
MAME bonsai less than 7cm in height
SHOHIN bonsai up to 20cm in height
KIFU bonsai between 20 and 40cm in height
CHU bonsai between 40 and 60 cm in height
DAI bonsai over 60cm in height