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Ancient Bonsai, Ancient Trees

05/26/20

This magnificent Juniper bonsai is said to be 800 years old, which makes it a very old bonsai. But not the oldest bonsai we know of and nowhere near the oldest living tree in the world. It resides at Kunio Kobayashi's Shunka-en Bonsai Museum in Tokyo. We borrowed the photo from Bonsai Empire.

All of the sudden it's unseasonably hot here in northern Vermont. Too hot and it's getting hotter (perhaps part of a long series of messages nature is sending us). Anyway, there's too much to do outside today, so it's a good time to borrow from our archives. This one is from March, 2016 (with several changes today). I think it's worth another look.

I've long been fascinated with trees. It started with big ones in the ground and later spread to smaller ones in ceramic containers. Perhaps these photos will capture some of the fascination.

  

Old Tjikko. This lonely Norway spruce (Picea abies) is said to be 9,500 years old. But the trunk you see in this photo is only a few hundred years old

Old Tjikko, the tree above originally gained fame as the world’s oldest tree, but that seems a bit of a stretch. Though its DNA may be over 9,500 years old, I wouldn’t say that it’s the oldest tree in the world. Instead, it’s the oldest known living clonal Norway Spruce.

The following quote is from Wikipedia. “The age of the tree (Old Tjikko) was determined by carbon dating of genetically matched plant material collected from under the tree, as dendrochronology would cause damage. The trunk itself is estimated to be only a few hundred years old, but the plant has survived for much longer due to a process known as layering (when a branch comes in contact with the ground, it sprouts a new root), or vegetative cloning (when the trunk dies but the root system is still alive, it may sprout a new trunk).” Wikipedia has a lot more to say and if you’re like me, you’ll find the story fascinating.

 This rugged little Bristlecone pine was posted on facebook by Jean-Paul Polmans. Bristlecones are considered by many to be the oldest living trees in the world. According to Wikipedia, the oldest, a Pinus longaeva is more than 5,000 years old (Pinus longaeva is one of the three Bristlecone species). Bristlecones live their long lives in the remote, high altitude, semi-arid mountains of the western U.S.

 

 Oldest living bonsai? Here's a quote from Bonsai Empire "This Ficus Bonsai is reported to be over a thousand years old; the oldest Bonsai tree in the world.* It is the main tree on display, at the Crespi Italian Bonsai museum." I'm not sure about the oldest bonsai in the world part, but it's no doubt very old and very impressive. If the photo looks familiar, it might be because we've shown it before (or because it's a rather famous tree).
* They don't say how long the tree has been in a bonsai container
 
"This juniper is tested to be more than 1000 years old, collected in the wild in Japan. It is still in training and rough. It is at the Mansei-en bonsai nursery of the Kato family in Omiya, Japan. Photo by Morten Albek." I borrowed the photo and the quote from Bonsai Empire. 

 

Speaking of Mansei-en and the Kato family... 
Forest, Rock Planting & Ezo Spruce Bonsai
by Saburo Kato

 


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