Glossary of Bonsai Tree Terms

Akadama

Japanese clay-like soil with perfect characteristics for bonsai.

 

Anneal (copper wire)

Softening wire, by heating it to red-hot, and allowing to cool slowly.

 

Apically dominant

A plant that concentrates a lot of energy in upward growth.

 

Bankan

Twisted Trunk Style. Unnatural, and thankfully now seldom used.

 

Bunjin

Literati Style – tall, slender trunk with ample movement and a minimal amount of foliage. Reflects the brush strokes of Chinese calligraphy.

 

Calcined Clay

Clay that has been baked to stabilize the granules. It is able to absorb large volumes of water without breaking down and is used as a soil conditioner.

 

Calcifuges

Plants that will not tolerate lime in their soil or in their water.

 

CEC

Cation Exchange Capacity – the ability of a material to absorb nutrients from soil water and to release them to the roots as they are required.

 

Cleft Grafts/ Crown Grafts

Quick method of grafting ornamental varieties onto stocks of stronger varieties. Commercially successful this often leaves ugly unions

 

Chokkan

Formal Upright Style, with a straight, upright trunk.

 

Damping-off

A group of fungal diseases that attacks seedlings, causing them to collapse.

 

Ericaceous

Soil that contains no lime. Also plants of the heather family.

 

Fukinagashi

Windswept Style.

 

Growing On

Allowing plants a period of free growth to strengthen them.

 

Han-Kengai

The Semi-Cascade Style in which the tree cascades below the rim of the pot.

 

Hardwood Cuttings

Cuttings from shoots that have become woody, usually in autumn

 

‘Heel’

A sliver of the parent branch that stays attached to a hardwood cutting.

 

Hokidachi

Broom Style.

 

Internode

The section of a stem between the leaves

 

Ishitsuki

Root-in-Rock Style – in which the rock acts as a container for the roots.

 

Jin

A dead brach which has been removed, either naturally, or artificially.

 

Kabudachi

Clump Style in which the trunks are joined at the base. Usualy made by cutting a single trunk to ground level, and training the many new shoots.

 

Kanuma

Japanese volcanic clay which is excellent for growing azaleas.

 

Kengai

Cascade Style – in which the tree cascades to below the base of the pot.

 

Layering 

Wrapping a deliberately wounded branch with a wad of sphagnum moss, in order to induce the production of an entirely new set of roots.

 

Leader

The main, upward-growing shoot.

 

Lignified

A shoot or a root that has become woody as a plant matures.

 

Mame

Mini-bonsai that will fit on the palm of your hand.

 

Moyogi 

Informal Upright Style – feature a curved, upright trunk.

 

Mycorrhizae

Micropsopic, subterranean fungi which colonize plant roots and assist them in gathering nutrients and water, in return for sugars manufactured by the host plant.

 

Neagari

Exposed Root Style – the tree stands on a column of exposed roots.

 

Nebari

The heavy roots which are visible above the surface of the soil.

 

Netsunanari, Ikadabuki

Raft Style – the trunks of the bonsai are formed from branches of the true trunk, which is laid horizontally in the pot, and partially or entirely covered with soil.

 

Penjing

Chinese art of miniature landscapes. A tree with a rock is penjing, not punsai.

 

Pricking Out

Planting newly germinated seedlings in individual containers.

 

Propagator

Commercial unit with container for soil and cuttings and a clever cover.

 

Pumice

Soft stone made from fine-pored lava.

 

‘Punsai’

The Chinese pronunciation for the word we know as ‘bonsai’.

 

Reverse Osmosis

The passage of water from within roots to the soil, which may be caused by an excessive concentration of fertilizer in the soil.

 

Root Burn

The effect on roots of ‘reverse osmosis’ which may be caused by overfeeding with a rich fertilizer.

 

Rooting Hormone

Commercial preparations that some growers believe may be credited with an increase in success rate of propagation from soft or hardwood cuttings.

 

Sekijoju

Root-over-Rock Style, in which roots are clasped to a rock before they enter the soil.

 

Semi-Ripe Cuttings

Cuttings from shoots that are just hardening in mid-to late summer.

 

Shakan

Slanting Style

 

Shari

An area of trunk  from which bark has been removed, naturally or artificially

 

Sharimiki, Sabamiki

Driftwood Style – in which deadwoods is the major feature.

 

Shimpaku

The japanese term for the tree known in English as the Chinese Juniper

 

Shohin

Small bonsai that are generally under 6 inches (150mm) tall.

 

Softwood Cuttings

Cuttings taken from young shoots that are still green – this is usually done in the early months of the summer.

 

Soju

Double-Trunk Style.

 

Sphagnum Moss

Also known as bog moss, this is the best medium to use when air-layering.

 

Stratification

The process of exposing seeds of some hardy trees to extremely low temperatures, in order to stimulate germination.

 

Suiseki

Viewing stone. A stone resembling, for example, a mountain or a cliff. The stone s generally mounted on a plinth and used as an accent to complement a bonsai display.

 

Tokonoma

An alcove in a traditional Japanese home, used for the display of bonsai. Generally consists of the bonsai, an accent and a scroll.

 

Trace Elements

Chemicals that plants only require in minute quantities. These are usually present in garden soil but are almost always absent from inert bonsai soils.

 

Yamadori

Wild trees that may be collected from open ground and used for training as bonsai.

 

Yose-ue

Forest Style.

 

Terms from The Bonsai Handbook (by David Prescott) & Bonsai – A Care Manual (by Colin Lewis)