BONSAI WORLD A series of articles by The Shikoku Shimbun focuses on the attractions of bonsai which encapsulate small universes in containers.

Fruit Trees in Winter: Shohin Bonsai for New Year

December 29, 2012

 In winter, you will see trees having fresh red or yellow fruits instead of flower trees of autumn. Toshiyuki Okada, Haruchan bonsai in Takamatsu's Kokubunji town, show us his shohin bonsai for the New Year.

Happy Red Fruit

 Pyracantha (fire thorn) is common garden tree in Japan. Japanese name is "Tokiwa Sanzashi." However the tree will be taller than human in nature, it is also popular as shohin bonsai. It is interesting to grow smaller in a pot. But pay attention to the sharp thorns.

 Okada grows a tree over 15 years old to be 18 centimeters in a pot. He says, "This thick trunk has a powerful impact. It is easy to grow it from cuttings so beginners can enjoy cultivating."

 Cotoneaster also has red fruits like Pyracantha. This tree is about 15 years old and the height is 21 centimeters. Compared to Pyracantha, the elegant shape and size is suitable to display in a room.

Pyracantha (left) and Cotoneaster
Pyracantha (left) and Cotoneaster

Excellent Appearance after Leaves Fall

 However the names and shapes are similar, Umemodoki (Japanese winterberry) belongs to the Aquifoliaceae and Tsuru-Umemodoki (Japanese bittersweet) belongs to the Celastraceae. The former is made into Kabudachi (multiple trunks) and Moyogi (trunks draw curves in patterns). After all leaves are falling in late autumn, the red and white fruits are highly noticeable and many fanciers like the appearance. It was named for the appearance with fruits like prams before blooming.

 The latter is strong and common in mountains and fields in Japan. The creeper is often grown in a garden and trained over a wall. It gains a distinctive atmosphere with a wild trunk over the years. Its orange fruits in winter are also popular in Japanese flower arrangement.

Umemodoki (left) and Tsuru-Umemodoki
Umemodoki (left) and Tsuru-Umemodoki

 Both are the dioecism plant. Only female plants bear the fruits. When you put the bonsai outside, it is necessary to cover it with nets to protect from birds. The Umemodoki on the left in the picture is 8 years old and the height is 9 centimeters. The Tsuru-umemodoki on the right is 3 years old and the height is 9 centimeters.
(By Shigeo Hano)
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