Plant ID forum: True Bonsai? or just general plant ID help...

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NYC, NY
djacob
Jul 12, 2017 7:35 AM CST
Morning,

Found this in the window of local floral/plant shop (sorry for the photo quality), can anyone assist in identifying the plant? Im not sure if it actually a true bonsai variety, or just planted that way...

Thank you!
Thumb of 2017-07-12/djacob/19bce2

Name: Lin
Southeast Florida (Zone 10a)

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plantladylin
Jul 12, 2017 8:39 AM CST
Hi djacob, Welcome!

Many different types of shrubs and trees are trained as Bonsai, which is the art of growing plants in small containers and pruning and wiring/shaping branches and roots to form certain shapes. There are many different plants used in the art of Bonsai; Azalea, Ficus, Pine etc.

I'm not certain but the plant in your photo reminds me of Ming Aralia (Polyscias fruticosa)

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Murky
Jul 12, 2017 12:39 PM CST
My first thought was Ming Aralia as well, I once had it as a regular house plant.

And yes, there's no such thing as a "true bonsai", any tree or bush can be trained for bonsai, it's all dependent on the skill of the person training the plant (and probably patience). I've even seen beautiful Magnolia trees, Cherry Blossoms and Lilac bushes trained as bonsai, as well as many deciduous trees, and they were all absolutely gorgeous. But the flowering trees in bloom are just stunning as bonsai.
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purpleinopp
Jul 12, 2017 5:00 PM CST
I generally agree, Murky, but there are some exceptions, to some interpretations of "bonsai", to woody entities as bonsai candidates, like palms and ponytail palms. They could be underpotted, and grow at a stunted pace as a result, but there's no way to manipulate the size of their foliage or overall proportions, a requirement for an entity to look "shrunken," by having been manipulatively pruned. If one wants to call one of these a bonsai, that's perfectly fine, but if one conjures a mental image of a proportionately shrunken tree when they consider the word bonsai, not just the size of a pot, those will be unsatisfying. As a mere translation, I've always read it just means potted tree, so there is a lot of room for interpretation and subjectivity.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jul 12, 2017 11:38 PM CST
Also, there is no size limits on Bonsai, they can be big or small. Bonsai does mean 'plant in a pot'. But the concept has grown into all the work that goes into keeping a plant at one size in a pot: imagining, pruning, shaping and wiring, root pruning... Its not longer just a tree in a pot.

But the trees, because they are living things, are constantly growing and evolving. Its not a stagnant art form but a living sculture. Therefore, they are never finished, no matter how old they are.

I have a few. I would have more if they weren't so much work. The oldest is about 40 years old.
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