Japanese white pine, Pinus parviflora.


Japanese white pine, Pinus parviflora. This species is one of the classic conifer bonsai subjects of Japan.

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Japanese white pine, Pinus parviflora. This species is one of the classic conifer bonsai subjects of Japan.

The three main bonsai Pine species that we see in Japan are, this one, Japanese black pine, Pinus thunbergii and Japanese red pine, Pinus densiflora. The white pine being probably the most commonly seen imported into the UK. Although not often seen in gardens or arboretums, it was actually introduced into this country in 1861. Certainly in it’s native country and to a lesser extent in the west, there are lots of cultivars of the species. Typical really of any tree long cultivated by man.

As a bonsai it benefits from a period of acclimitisation before too much work is attempted. Our climate is sufficiently different from that in which it naturally occurs in the home country to make that a good idea. The creation in of bonsai from this species in Japan quite often involves being grafted onto P. thunbergii rootstock. Two reasons mainly, first is that it is generally held that the Black pine root system is more vigorous and stronger, and secondly it quickly develops craggy bark which is a desirable thing when a lot of our efforts go into making our bonsai look older than they really are.

This imported chuhin size bonsai has been created on P. thunbergii root stock and so has really attractive fissured bark. Like so many Japanese created bonsai it has a pretty good root base which measures 12 cm. across at soil level. Above this the trunk diam. is 5 cm. There is nice movement and taper in that trunk.  The height is 44 cm. and the good arrangement of branching spreads to 43 cm. As is usually the case more ramification of smaller branches will lead to a more dense, more mature look to the canopy. It is planted in a nice quality imported unglazed ceramic 25x18x8 cm.  It is very likley that in the future imports from the far east will not only be more expensive but also much harder to acquire.

We have recently re-styed this bonsai to show the real potential, some of the original image remain for comparison.