The Japanese art of bonsai dates back to the 6th century BCE. It started with Buddhist students and imperial embassy personnel traveling to China to come back with various container plantings called Penjing. But besides that, it would be beautiful to get familiar with some of the oldest Bonsai trees across the globe. In this article I have managed to track down the 8 oldest bonsai trees known in the world…
The oldest bonsai tree in the world is a Ficus Retusa in Italy, which is said to be over 1000 years old. This tree currently sits outside the Crespi Bonsai Museum on display. Another amazing old bonsai tree is a 400 year old Japanese White Pine that actually survive the Hiroshima disaster! Keep reading to find out more…
1. Ficus Bonsai Tree – Over 1000 Years Old
The Ficus Retusa Linn tree is over 1000 years old and found in Parabiago, Italy. This tree, which sits at the center of the Crespi Bonsai Museum, was initially under the care of Chinese masters and then later a Japanese master, Shotaro Kawahara.
It was not until 1986, after a battle of ten years, that Luigi Crespo managed to get it under his care. The tree is currently in a glass pagoda outside the museum, displaying irresistible beauty.
2. Juniper Bonsai Tree – 1000 Years Old
This old Juniper Bonsai Tree is about 1000 years old. You will find it in the Mansei-en Bonsai Nursery in Omiya, Japan. The nursery, which is part of the Omiya Bonsai Village, belongs to the Kato Family. Interestingly, this tree was collected from the wild in the mountains. However, you will witness that it is relatively rough as it is still adapting to life in a pot.
Or would you like to get this juniper bonsai tree? It will be appealing when played as the centerpiece of your property.
3. Bonsai Trees in Shunkaen Nursery – Over 800 Years Old
These trees are found in Tokyo, Japan, and are estimated to be at least 800 years. Usually, you will get them in the Shunkaen Bonsai Museum. It features a sleek gallery and with some of the most impressive outdoor gardens.
This museum is not only owned but also operated by the Kunio Kobayashi family. Kunio is a master who has attended on Bonsai trees for over 30 years now. Whereas this tree is relatively short, it is an epitome of beauty. Do not shy away from exploring their website for more insights.
Besides, did you know that some of the trees in this nursery are the most impressive and expensive?
4. Japanese Red Pine Bonsai – 600 Years Old
This tree is in the Akao Herb and Rose Garden, which is found in Atami, Japan. This tree is estimated to be over 600 years old. While at it, most people consider it as one of the largest bonsai across the globe. It comes with a height of about 16 feet and a 30-feet width. With this massive size, there was a need to add a little support.
Despite this size being an issue, this tree remains to be technically a bonsai. That is because it is in a pot.
5. Sandai Shogun no Matsu – 500 Years Old
Have you ever heard of a 5-needle pine? Well, Sandai Shogun no Matsu is, which makes it one of the most valuable national treasures of Japan. This tree is estimated to be about 500 years and named after Shogun Iemitsu.
It is not only a beauty to behold but also a personification of Japanese history and imperial culture. Over the years, it has gone through the hands of one emperor to another. Currently, it is on display at the Tokyo Imperial Palace Collection in Tokyo, Japan.
6. Japanese White Pine Bonsai – 400 Years Old
In most cases, people will refer to the Japanese White Pine Bonsai as the Yamaki Bonsai too. Did you know that this tree survived the Hiroshima tragedy? That it survived the effects of the bomb on tha tragic day makes it one of the most special ones.
This tree has been in training for over 400 years until now. All these years is thanks to the patience and effort of the Yamaki family.
Later, it was donated to the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum in Washington, DC, USA. This place is its current home. It is the only tree that has so far been honored. It got this prestigious honor in 2015, marking 70 years after surviving the bomb.
7. Chabo-Hiba Cypresses – Between 150 And 275 Years Old
This famous yet slightly slanting cypress is an epitome of not only gorgeousness but also elegance.
Besides being part of the known dwarfed trees from the Arnold arboretum, it has been in the same pot over the years, which is relatively unique. Other bonsai trees will not withstand being in such containers for very long.
It is estimated to be between 150 and 275 years old. They were first repurchased into the country in 1913 by a former ambassador called Anderson.
Isabel Anderson donated most of these cypresses. While at it, it would be fair to mention that these trees are among the oldest in the US. You will find them in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US.
8. Cypress in Modern Pot – Between 150 And 275 Years Old
Then comes one of the most exclusive trees in a modern pot. It is currently in a contemporary container, which distinguishes it from the rest. That is because most of its counterparts have been removed after showing signs of freezing.
This bonsai tree could be between 150 and 275 years too. It forms part of the family of Chabo-Hiba cypresses as well. Its slanting nature makes it an adorable sight for many people.
Bonsai trees are so commercialized now and we often overlook their rich history. It is really interesting looking at the history of bonsai as well as some of the oldest trees to have ever lived as bonsai trees. A study showed that with any species of tree, if it is grown as bonsai it would live up to 25% longer due to the huge amount of ongoing care and maintenance the trees receive, compared to that of a tree in nature so it’s no wonder we are finding 1000 year old bonsai.
It’s exciting to think that there may actually be more bonsai out there in private nurseries that could be even older! The fact these bonsai trees are making it a thousand years really shows the strength of the techniques actually used in bonsai to keep trees healthy and thriving, it’s extremely impressive! Leave a comment below and let me know your favourite of these old trees.
1000 Year Old Ficus Video –
Related Articles – How To Choose A Bonsai Tree / 5 Best Bonsai Trees For Beginners
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