Did you know?… 10 Bonsai Facts

bonsai tree

1 – That the origin of Bonsai, while often attributed to the Japanese, is actually Chinese in derivation? Many experts agree that bonsai, known as Pensai in China, was practiced by scholars, monks and the noble classes of China as far back as 600 A.D.

2 – That the word “Bonsai”, which is pronounced “Bone- Sigh”, is made up of the two Japanese characters: “Bon” meaning tray and “sai” meaning plant, which when literally translated means: tray plant? Of course, the cultivation of bonsai trees has advanced much since its humble start as plants in trays.

3 – That an earthquake is responsible for shifting the “epicenter” of bonsai cultivation in Japan? In 1923 an 8.3 magnitude earthquake devastated the entire Kanto region of Japan. Destroying vast portions of the two largest cities: Tokyo and Yokohama; along with a majority of the commercial bonsai businesses. As a result, the bonsai business community, in an effort to save their livelihoods, collectively purchased a tract of land outside of Tokyo, in the Omiya region, where their businesses once again flourished.

4 – That in 1976 the people of Japan, in honor of the USA Bicentennial Celebration, presented to America 53 priceless bonsai trees and 6 remarkable viewing stones? These gifts were to become the foundation of our national collection.

5 – That the bark of a tree has three very important and practical functions? It is waterproof, so it prevents leaking from the phloem; It also houses small structures, called lenticels, that allow the tree to breathe; and the bark’s third function is to protect the phloem from all kinds of impacts, abrasions and attacks from pests; including: insects and fungi.

6 – That wounds on bonsai trees do not heal in the same manner as the wounds of humans and/or animals? That is to say, trees are not able to repair damaged tissue; instead they continue to manufacture a new layer of cells with each years growth, until the wounds is entirely covered over.

7 – That if you look at a cross-section of a tree trunk you will see rings and each of these rings indicates a full years worth of life and growth? Scientists can tell by the thickness or thinness of a ring in which year more rain and more subsequent growth took place.

8 – That mature trees, both bonsai and those on the front lawn, develop what is known as a ‘collar’ around the base of the largest branches? This swelling takes years to develop and is caused by the up and down, forward and backward, motion of the largest and heaviest branches as they are pushed to and fro by the whims of Mother Nature.

9 – That autumn is the most favorable season of the year to prune a majority of deciduous bonsai? There are at least two good reason for this: first, the fact that all of the leaves have dropped off of your bonsai is a good sign that it has entered dormancy and, therefore, will not ‘bleed’ or lose sap when it is pruned (although it is still advisable to apply ‘cut-paste’ or ‘wound sealant’ to all sizable cuts); and second, now that the bonsai is bare you can see and reach undesirable and/or dead branches that had been covered and made unnoticeable and/or inaccessible by the trees seasonal foliage.

10 – That bonsai trees, as well as, other trees and plants, are capable of absorbing synthetic nutrients through their foliage – oftentimes more readily then through their roots? When foliar feeding, be sure to carefully follow all of the manufacturers’ instructions and never foliar feed in direct sunlight, as leaves can burn quickly.

For more bonsai information, including how to care for your bonsai you may want to check out “Bonsai Gardening Secrets” which is packed full of useful information. Click here to go there now.

by Michael Rotch

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