Defining the exact meaning of a commonly-used term is not easy and is subject to interpretation. In true wiki-style, if there are terms missing from this Glossary or you wish to change or challenge the wording of a definition.
To find out the meanings of all the particular words that are part of the world of bonsai, here is a practical and easy to navigate online glossary.
Defining the exact meaning of a commonly-used term is not easy and is subject to interpretation. In true wiki-style, if there are terms missing from this Glossary or you wish to change or challenge the wording of a definition
Bonsai is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. Similar practices exist in other cultures, including the Chinese tradition of penjing from which the art originated, 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. A "bon" is a tray-like pot typically used in bonsai culture.
The word bonsai 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-size or park-size gardens or landscapes. Instead, bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a 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 that 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 display pot, usually one designed for bonsai display in one of a few accepted shapes and proportions. From that point forward, its growth is restricted by the pot environment. Throughout the 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 generally refers to research, discovery, or 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-size trees.
- apex - the tip of a tree or branch
- bonsai - Japanese term for the the art of cultivating and training a plant to create the illusion of a dwarfed tree.
- bonkei - tray plantings containing stones, trees, plants and figurines
- branch bender - a clamp or jack used to bend branches or trunk
- branch splitter - a cutting tool used to divide branch or trunk to allow it to be bent more easily.
- broom style - A training form for bonsai which resembles an inverted broom with a single trunk dividing into many symmetric branchlets which subdivide into twigs and so forth. See Hokidachi
- bunjin - Japanese term for an educated person or literati, a tree grown in this style, usually emphasizing a thin trunk, with a lean appearance and container with rough-hewn appearance.
- callus - The raised roll of tissue that forms as a wound heals and closes
- cambium - The layer of tissue between the xylem and phloem, where new wood is formed.
- chokkan - Japanese term for the formal upright style
- clump style - see Kabaduchi
- concave cutters
- cutting - a bit of a plant that has been cut and rooted. A means to propagate.
- deciduous - a plant that sheds its leaves and enters a state of dormancy annually
- eda - Japanese term for branch
- evergreen - a tree that does not shed its leaves in winter
- fungicide - a chemical used to combat the growth of fungus
- graft - to join a stem of one plant with another so they grow together. Grafting is used both to propagate plant species and to add foliage where none previously existed on a bonsai.
- grafting knife
- han-kengai - Japanese term for semi-cascade - See also Kengai
- hokidachi - Japanese Term for Broom Style
- ishitsuki - Japanese term for root-over-rock style
- jin - Pronounced JEEN - Japanese term for snags of deadwood on the ends of branches or trunk.
- kabaduchi - Japanese term for clump style bonsai
- kengai - Japanese term for cascade style. See also han-kengai
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