A quick reference and extensive list of common bonsai terms. As a new enthusiast you will hear a lot of terms, many in Japanese. If you are like me, Japanese is not my first language however since bonsai is so highly respected and highly accomplished in Japan, many Japanese terms are important with in the bonsai community.

Bonsai Common Terms

Apex - The top or highest section of the tree.

Back-Budding - The result of buds growing on the trunk or branch due to pruning.

Buttress - The base area of the tree also known as root flare.

Cambium - A cellular plant tissue from which phloem, xylem, or cork grows by division, resulting in secondary thickening.

Callus - Cells that cover a plant wound after being cut.

Candle - The new growth at the tips of branches that typically points upward and resembles a candle sitting on the branch.

Chop - Trunk chop is the practice of cutting back a tree aggressively after a healthy branch to develop taper giving the tree a mature appearance in upcoming years.

Deadwood - Wood that has died on a tree and can be carved and sealed to give trees a dramatic mature appearance.

Deciduous - A type of tree or shrub that sheds its leaves annually in the fall and grows new leaves in the spring.

Die Back - Wood dying due to cutting from rot or disease.

Evergreen - Having green leaves or needles all year. Evergreen trees lose their leaves individually on an ongoing basis.

Internode - The sections of stem between nodes.

Jin - Deadwood on a branch that can be carved and preserved and gives the impression of stress exposure from nature.

Layer - Air layering, ground layering is the technique to propagate and clone trees.

Nebari - The base portion of the tree that consists of the root flare.

Node - Nodes are the points on a stem where the buds, leaves, and branching twigs originate.

Ramification - The exponential division growth of a plant. 1 branch forks out to 2 branches, then to 4 branches, then to 8 branches and so forth.

Soil - The medium a plant grows in. In terms of bonsai soil it's typically granular to allow for fast drainage. There are many types of mixes including the following materials: lava rock, akadama, pine bark, moss, stone, turface and many more material types.

Sphagnum Moss -

Style - The manipulation of a tree using wires, pruning and other techniques to formulate the tree's design.

Xylem - The vascular tissue in plants that conducts water and dissolved nutrients upward from the root and also helps to form the woody element in the stem.

Shari - Deadwood on trunk that can be carved and preserved and gives the impression of stress exposure from nature.

Yamadori - A collected mature tree from nature.


Bonsai Tree Styles

Broom Bonsai Style (Hokidachi) -

Formal Upright Bonsai Style (Chokkan) -

Informal Upright Bonsai Style (Moyogi) -

Leaning Bonsai Style (Shakan) -

Cascade Bonsai Style (Kengai) -

Semi-Cascade Bonsai Style (Han-Kengai) -

Literati Bonsai Style (Bunjin) -

Windswept Bonsai Style (Fukinagashi) -

Double Trunk Bonsai Style (Sokan) -

Multi-Trunk Bonsai Style (Kabudachi) -

Forest Bonsai Style (Yose-Ue) -

Growing Over Rock Bonsai Style (Seki-Joju) -

Growing In Rock Bonsai Style (Ishisuki) -

Raft Bonsai Style (Ikadabuki) -

Shari Bonsai Style (Sharimiki) -


Bonsai Japanese Size Classifications

Note: These sizes vary within the bonsai community.

Imperial - 60 to 80 inches

Hachi-uye - 40 to 60 inches

Dai or Omono - 30 to 48 inches

Chiu Chumono - 16 - 36 inches

Katade-mochi - 10 to 18 inches

Komono - 6 to 10 inches

Mame - 5 to 8 inches

Shito or Keshitsubo - 2 inches and under