Bonsai Glossary

The world of bonsais is quite vast. Too vast, in fact, that we encounter certain terminologies from time to time that just… make us wonder what the heck they mean.

While countless information about the art of bonsai is readily available and is not lacking, the majority of those are aimed at bonsai artists with established knowledge or grasp of the basics. And if you grab a bonsai book or two, you’ll find that even they assume you have a basic understanding of plant terminologies despite targeting beginners.

So in an effort to relieve you of this burden and get you in the lingo, BonsaiTreeGradener gathered and compiled bonsai terms and other botanical words that will make the bonsai journey a walk in the park (at least, the reading aspect because, let’s face it, growing bonsais can be…frustrating at times).

A disclaimer, though, expect this guide to be updated in the future since it will not contain all the English and Japanese bonsai terms in existence (but we sure will try!). And if you have your own set of terms that we fail to cover, reach out to us because we would love nothing more than to hear from you!

Shall we begin, then?

Bonsai Terminologies and Their Meanings

And so it begins…the journey of 332 terminologies (and counting)

Table of Contents

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Accent Plant

May be grass, perennial, or a small bamboo, accent plants are complimentary plants displayed next to a bonsai during a show or formal exhibits.

Adventitious Bud

This growth bud is produced in the most unexpected places different from where it normally would within a tree.

Air Layering

A popular technique and one of the most common terminologies in the world of bonsais, air layering, is used in creating new bonsai material from an already mature tree. It is done by:

  • Removing a strip of the bark up to the cambium layer of the tree
  • Brushing the wound with rooting hormone
  • Wrapping said wound in damp sphagnum moss
  • Covering it with bubble wrap or plastic sheet

The roots will then start growing from the top of the cut and into the moss.


A classic type of bonsai soil, the Akadama is ideal to use for most types of deciduous trees. It also means red clay balls.


Also known as the Japanese Red Pine or Japanese Five Needle Pine, the Akamatsu is notable for its red bark. It has gentle, long, thin leaves and a slim trunk. Typically grown in mountainous regions, the Akamatsu is tolerant of desiccation (or extreme dryness).  


Translates to sweet in Japanese, Amai is a word used to indicate a volume of sprinkling water. For example, a bonsai artist may say that the water is amai, which means the bonsai is sprinkled many times a day.


The highest point or the topmost part of a tree


Typically found at the upper and outermost branches, the apical is the most vigorous growth that a tree can produce.


‘New wood’ in Japanese, Araki is a term that refers to the collection of trees in the mountains then temporarily planted or plants cultivated in a field that remain untouched as a material. Araki may also signify raw wood and is a useful tree for growing trunks and branches.

Argillaceous Rock

When untreated, this class of sedimentary rock that contains clay components breaks down easily due to the water absorption and subsequent swelling. The argillaceous rock then retracts and cracks into smaller components.


Another Japanese term, Atama, is a name for a human physical part that means the ‘head’ and refers to the crown of a tree. This term is an important aspect of bonsai and is a basis for gauging one’s skills (whether you can bring the head together).

You may also have come across the expression, “The head fits well,” which is used to describe a well-shaped head. The norm is that the more roundish the head is, the better it is in expressing a sense of a large old tree trunk.  


Back Budding

This process involves pruning apical growth to induce growth along the branches and trunk.

Ban or Bankon

The superior roots found in the topsoil after two or more roots are knit together are called Bankon.


This tree style is distinguishable because of the exposed roots growing from a tree’s branches and trunk that reach down to the soil.


This term means to weep sap.


Or in its English name, the Japanese Quince is a deciduous shrub specie producing pink, red, or white flowers with a single or double petal. An early bloomer of Boke is called Kamboke, while the late bloomer is called Haruboke. It also sprouts many hikobae buds making growing takan multiple-trunk trees easy.


A bonkei mimics a miniature scene through a tray planted artwork that includes plants, the tree itself, stones, and figurines.

Botanical Name

The Latin counterpart given to every plant in the world.


  • Primary: grow directly from the trunk
  • Secondary: grow from the primary branches
  • Tertiary: grow from the secondary branches

Broom Style

Or the common name for the bonsai style Hokidachi. This style involves an upside-down brush with a single vertical trunk that has symmetrical branches dividing into more twigs.


This is one of the plant’s organs that contains the embryonic branch, leaf, or flower.


The bud reaches this point when it has opened enough and shows a green tip.


The point where the bud unfurls.

Bud Extension

Before the budbreak occurs, bud extensions happen where the tiny buds begin to swell and extend.


Commonly known as Siebold’s Beech, this bonsai grows wild in high mountains. And a forest full of these buna trees in the Shirakami-Sanchi mountain range in Japan is considered as one of the largest buna forests in the world and is listed under United Nations’ World Heritage sites. Types found in the Pacific side of Japan are a fan favorite among bonsai enthusiasts because the trunks of these bonsais turn whitish after being grown in a container, and their leaves grow small.


The Japanese phrase for an educated person, Bunjin, also means a tree grown in the literati style where its trunk is very long, thin and slender with the branches high above the tree and are very sparse.


Also known as root-flare. The base of the tree flares outwardly and gives a sense of great age and solidarity.  



The callus is a tissue that forms over a wound to allow the branch or trunk to heal.


Observed as the green growth tissue below the bark, the cambium adds girth to the root and stem systems of the plant.


The extending bud of a pine before new needles appear is called a candle.


This is the peripheral foliage of the upper branches and the outer part of the tree.


These nodules can be found in the more established Ginkgo specimens


Happens when chlorophyll and leaf color is lost due to mineral deficiency.


Literally, a rectangular pot. When viewed from above, this pot takes on a rectangular shape. Cornered Chohobachi are usually paired with Shohaku evergreen trees (pines mostly) to bring out the bonsai’s dynamism and individuality.


This is the Japanese term used to describe the formal upright style bonsai.


This term refers to a technique that involves heavy pruning that enables height reduction of the tree trunk.

Common Name

The name that any plant is commonly known for. Common names can be very non-specific, like maple, since it can refer to one out of hundreds of trees that even vary from region to region.

Concave Cutters

Used for removing branches because they produce perfect cuts, concave cutters are one of the most important tools that bonsai artists’ have. The cuts produced by these cutters also heal fairly quickly because of the nature of the wound they create.


This type of tree bears cones like cedars, junipers, pines, and spruces. Conifers have small waxy leaves that usually appear as pines.


The collective name of all the parts of a tree that are above ground.

Cut Paste

A wound sealant quite popular among experienced bonsai artists, cut paste is made to promote healing and prevent the sap from bleeding.


A cultivar is any cultivated variety of a given species. For example, the Yellow Berry Holly and the American Holly are cultivars of Ilex opaca. 



This special technique is used in creating deadwood on a bonsai. Doing so enhances the character and ages the tree.


This broad-leaved tree hardens and sheds its leaves in the fall, then go dormant in the winter.


This technique involves removing most or all of a bonsai’s leaves. Performing defoliation reduces leaf size and the distance between internodes.

Diatomaceous Earth

Produced by shells or skeletons of diatoms, this sedimentary soil is becoming more popular as a substitute for Akadama.

Die Back

Caused by disease or injury, die back happens when the growth dies at the beginning of the tip.


Done by deeply cutting through and into lobes or segments.


Or adventitious budding. The ‘Do’ is also known as the torso of the human body. Dobuki refers to new growth at the midpoint part of the trunk or between the branches.


This is the resting period for bonsais, where little to no growth is produced. Dormancy is usually during the autumn and winter months.


Dwarfs are a variety or cultivar that is smaller than the species but still retain all the characteristics of the full-size species.



This term refers to how a branch’s core flow and the framework of a branch.


Edafuse is a branch that is faced upward and turned to a horizontal or face-down position. This way, the futokoro (root parts of the tree branches) get better sunshine and ventilation.


Or the removal of unwanted branches but does not merely pull off the twigs. Edanuki involves cutting off relatively large branches, including those that are sticking out of the trunks.


Literally means branch self. Edatana is a mass of leaves that springs from a branch and is separated into small groups instead of a lump. And to divide them makes it possible to show the depth of the leaves while improving conditions regarding sunlight and ventilation. This process of dividing is called tanawari.


This term means how branches are attached and also how they come out. It is actually synonymous with Edajun (meaning branches lined up in order). Edatsuki also encompasses the characteristics of branches like their lengths and patterns.


This method involves trimming branches to show how they are settling and demonstrate the state of their condition. The branches become separated from the tree’s trunk because of the fixed spaces between them.


Known in English as the Chinese Hackberry, Enoki grows in rivers, seas, and any waterfront areas. They also bear edible fruits that are reddish in color in the month of October.


Refers to plants that love acid and hate lime


These plants remain in leaf all year round; They slowly shed old leaves while the new growth appears in their place.


Is the Japanese term for the branch of a tree.


Feeder Root

Or the root that absorbs the water and nutrients from the soil.

Feng Shui

The Chinese art of creating balance, comfort, and harmony between people and their environment, Feng Shui, literally translates to wind-water.

Fibrous Root

Extremely delicate roots that are fine and hair-like, the fibrous roots absorb the majority of the nutrients and water from the soil.

Foliage Pad

These are the cloud-shaped masses of foliage that are so positioned in branches. Creating them involves training each branch and pruning the twigs to ensure leaf growth.

Forest Bonsai

Creating miniature forests through the use of several trees that are of similar species.


This term describes the main direction the tree trunk is grown


This is the Japanese term for a windswept form


Used in fighting fungus but can also damage or potentially kill bonsais, fungicide is a liquid-based chemical that bonsai artists have in their arsenal.


The curve line of a trunk, Furi is the basis of a tree’s form.


Literally translates to cutting old leaves. This method refers to cutting old leaves in the summer to autumn seasons in order to provide sufficient sunlight and ventilation to the roots of the branches.


Or indefinite buds. Futeiga is a term referring to the buds that come out from unexpected parts of a plant aside from the leaf axils, stem, and tip of branches.


Or the bosom. It generally refers to the root parts of tree branches that are close to the tree’s trunk. Values even go up for bonsai trees with branchy futokoro.



Refers to the group of plants that belong to the same family with varying species while sharing the first half of the Latin name of the plant.


This process is where bonsai seeds move from the dormant state into the growth stage, where it develops roots and shoot.


The circumference at which the widest point of the bonsai tree is measured.


Being useless in the future when it comes to the shape of a tree, the Giseishi is considered a sacrificial branch despite being deliberately left to grow.


Is the coarse soil with good drainage that is used at the bottom of the pot


Also known as Japanese White Pin or Japanese Five Needle Pine in English, the Goyomatsu appears more voluminous than other pine trees. This evergreen is also resistant to the cold and symbolizes longevity.


This technique is used in attaching and melding a branch to the tree’s stump.



Habari is the size and volume of bonsai trees’ left and right sides. The term is usually used for instances like the tree’s habari measures 3 centimeters from the right to the left branch. It can also sometimes refer to a tree’s outline or the combination of foliage, pot used, and trunks.


Is the compatibility between a tree and its pot. Hachiutsuri is one of the conditions for a good bonsai. And it is also notable that the shape of bonsai trees is deeply linked with pot selection.


Or cutting leaves. This process is done by cutting leaves (except leaf stalks) using scissors or other cutting tools. Bonsai artists perform Hagari from mid-May to mid-June after fresh buds come out in spring.


Or the Bush Clover bears butterfly-like flowers but is significantly weak in the cold. However, its branches can survive the winter months with sufficient fertilization.


Hagiri also refers to the cutting of leaves but only partially. It involves clipping parts of the leaves when they take on random or large sizes and, in turn, lose their beauty. This method also prevents moisture transpiration during the grafting of Zoki deciduous trees.

Hair Roots

These fine roots absorb nutrients and water from the surrounding soil.


Using a box-type display shelf, Hako-kazari is a bonsai dressing-up style used for Shohin small bonsai pieces.


Also known as leaf bud. Hame is a bud that becomes a leaf.


Is the act of moistening leaves with water. Hamizu is done to replenish the water for leaves and adjust their surface temperature.


Or floral bud. Haname is a term used when referring to a bud that sends out flower-blooming branches. It can be a floral stem that appears at the end of a branch that has grown too long (tocho-shi). Also, it can be a bud that appears on a short but thick branch.


This term refers to one or two trunks sprouting to the left or right in a multi-trunk tree. Hanedsehi is an important factor for bonsais since a tree with Hanadeshi trunks is seen as dynamic and will have a higher value.

Han Kengai

This is the Japanese term for the semi-cascade style of bonsai


Or the thinning-out leaves. Hanuki is the act of cutting off old leaves in order to fix a bonsai tree. It is also mainly done on the trees of Kuromatsu (Japanese Black Pine) and Akamatsu (Japanese Red Pine).


This is a plant’s ability to survive extreme temperatures in particular regions. Hardy is also used in describing a tree’s capability to withstand winter frost.

Hard Pruning

Cutting all stems to only a few inches from the ground. This process is done to renovate overgrown shrubs, but not all shrubs respond well to this (perform on vigorous growing shrubs only).


Or simply wiring. This involves wiring the trunks and branches of bonsai trees to help shape them. While considered the most time-consuming part, wiring is one of the most important processes in the world of bonsais.


Also known as the Japanese Elm, Harunire blooms around the month of April.


Means scissors work (literally). Hasami-zukuri is the work of pruning using scissors only when tuning fine branches and building up the tree without wiring.


Or literally, a running branch. Hashiri-eda is a branch that grows much stronger than any of the other branches. It is especially seen among Zoki deciduous trees, where a powerful branch comes out if a tree becomes off-balance, then extends its root to the soil.


Which literally translates to running root is a root that grows longer in soil compared to other roots. It is also called an Abare-ne or ramp root in English.


Also known in English as leaf features. Hasho refers to the leaves’ colors, forms, strength of growth, and the ways they emerge. A variation in leaf features is also an indication of the value of the tree despite being of the same species.


A bonsai tree that is transplanted to a pot after being grown in a field, a Hataagemono grows for short periods and is traded at low prices despite its large size.


Or the burning of leaves. But not in the literal sense. Hayake is when leaves turn brownish or yellow, or the leaf tips run dry. This happens when the water absorbed from the root does not reach the leaves.


Expresses the good conditions of bonsai trees. Literally taken, Hazumi means impulsion or momentum. This term is used when a bonsai tree, along with its trunks and branches, are all in good shape.


Refers to fertilizers or the artificial replenishment of nutrition. Despite many nourishing substances in the soil essential for plant growth, those are not in good chemical form for plants to absorb from their roots. This is why artificial fertilizers are needed.


This term means the coming out of a Futeiga (indefinite bud) from beneath the surface at the root. Hikobae may even refer to the indefinite bud itself. When left to grow, such buds may weaken the tree.


Or in its English name, the Chinese Crab Apple. It produces beautiful pink flower buds during the spring season.


This is the Japanese term referring to the broom-style bonsai.


Literally translates to formal pot. Hombachi is a container used in planting a bonsai tree for the purpose of appreciation. Generally, Homabchi pots are not suitable for plant cultivation, so it would be better to use Baiyobachi or the pot for cultivation. The latter is made from a loose paste that allows plants to grow and be managed daily.


Literally means bones. Hone refers to the core elements of trees like the branches, roots, and trunks, which can’t be remade easily.


Is the amount or degree of moisture in the air that plants require.

Humidity Tray

This type of tray helps in promoting better humidity that is necessary for bonsai growth


Ibigawa Rock

Endemic to the Ibigawa region, this rock is widely used for landscapes and bonsai art. It comes in a greyish color and is usually grooved and sharp.


Or Japanese Yew in English. This plant grows in the mountainous areas of Japan, with Hokkaido in the north and Kyushu in the south. Its wood is typically hard and turns darkish after being cultivated in a pot for long periods.


The first branch found from the base of trees is called Ichinoeda. It also dictates the structure of the entire tree.


Or the popular Ginkgo biloba. Icho is a dioecious plant.


Is the Japanese term referring to a raft style of setting up bonsais.


Literally means living flowers. It is the Japanese art form of flower arrangement. The rules set forth in Ikebana are strict and involve representing the people, heaven, and earth.


Also known as the trunk lifeline, Ikimichi is similar to Mizusui (lifeline). It refers to a part of the trunks of Ichii (Japanese Shimpaku (Sargent’s Juniper)


Can be leaves or leaf joints, internode is that section where growth happens between two nodes.


Is the root-over-rock style of bonsai

Ish Seki

Bonsai trees that are planted on rocks.


Or simply, one year. While it usually takes several years for many bonsai plants to reach maturity, some only need Issaisho. Some of these plants include Momo (peach), Sakura (Japanese Cherry), and Ume (Japanese Apricot).



In Japanese, Jidai means age and refers to the condition of a bonsai tree after existing for a long time. A tree’s age is evident in the thickness of bark, with its setting expressed in: “its age is good” or “it is empty of age.”


Useful in decorating ordinary and grass bonsais, Jiita is a board or sheet with a shape that varies and is one of the varieties of Taku tables for bonsai display.


This Japanese term refers to the deadwood at the ends of branches and trunks. Jin can be artificially created from the unwanted branches by stripping the bark and cambium.


This is the top of the tree and the apex created when a gathered group of branches and leaves are divided into more groups.


Is the properties of trees regarding their fast or slow speed of growth, quality to resist pollution, nature of their flower, fruit, and leaves, good or bad shape, quality of soil and light, the difficulty for transplants, and their resistance to pests. In general, Jusei is the quality of a tree.


Considered as the top of the tree, Jushin is also sometimes called Atama (head) and Shin (apex of the tree). It also influences the status of the tree. The usual expression goes like this: “the top of the tree fits in.”



Or multiple trunks. Kabudachi encompasses trees having five or more trunks that extend from their roots. On the other hand, a tree with only two trunks from its foot is called Sokan (translates to double trunks). In comparison, a tree with three trunks is called Sankan (or triple trunks). In addition, odd-numbered trunks are appreciated more than even-numbered ones, except for two.


Popularly known as Maple, Kaede belongs to the Acer genus of the family Aceraceae. It has three kirekome notches, while those with five deep notches are called Momiji.


This term means air-layering and involves developing roots by peeling bark off a tree trunk. This process also includes rooting and removing the skin where the peeling is done.


Is a shade cloth that is used as protection against sunlight. Kanreisha is a large wide cloth that helps cultivate and farm seedlings.


Or, in English, a sprinkling of water. Watering bonsais are necessary for them to stay alive in their pots.


This refers to the limited amount of fertilizer and water provided to trees.


Or roots tangled together. For the reason the roots lying above Nebari (visible roots of trees) are lacking in terms of beauty, they are untangled during Uekae (repotting) or cut off on one of the two sides.


Or the popular Chinese Quince variety. Karin has rose-pink flowers and may produce large, yellow fruits during fall.


When translated in English, Karusu means callus and refers to the agglutination of a group of cells, skin, or tissue system that swells in a damaged area.


Branches of a trunk concentrated on one side while others are lacking on the other are represented by the Japanese word Kataeda. Such a phenomenon is usually seen in windswept bonsai styles.


This Japanese term means hardening a tree. Katamaru refers to the new buds and leaves that are growing to become branches. After developing into trees, Katamaru means they are fully grown, and no further expansion will happen.


Refers to those roots found only on one side of the trunk. The side without roots develops slowly, with branches growing weak. Remedying this involves grafting roots onto the trunk.  


The eccentric tree in Japanese culture, Kawarigi, has a very difficult trunk that does not fit the bonsai category like a curved upright trunk, formal upright style trunk, and a waterfall style tree.


Also known as the cambium, Keiseiso is a structure of tissues promoting the growth of stems and roots. It can be found in a vascular bundle between the phloem and the xylem.


Or the cascade style of bonsais. Trees that exhibit this style have their apex dangling down from the bottom of their pots. Kengai also demonstrates trees’ severity in nature and their strong vitality.


Also known by its English name as the Japanese Zelkova, Keyaki is widely used for parks and streets aside from the typical bonsais.


This is the focal point of a tree. Kikieda is also known as the point or accentuated branch. It serves as a principal point and highlights branches for trees as a whole regardless of the main branches’ sequence when emerging.


Is the act of cutting or severing a branch. Kirikomi is one of the many ways of shaping a tree and is similar to Sentei or trimming a tree.


Or cutting back, is a technique involving the cutting of branches. During propagation of plants through cuttings and grafting, the branch used for rooting must be cut in a diagonal way at the base and on the opposite side to create a V-shaped wedge.


Or Daenbachi is a bonsai pot that takes an elliptical or oval shape. Kobanbachi pots are best for gentle-shaped trees.


The Japanese term for a trunk that has a large trunk tapering towards the apex is Kokejun. It can also be called Shibori or squeeze. Kokejun determines a bonsai tree’s aesthetic element. So a tree that is only thick at the base is viewed as not well balance.


Ever seen a tree with a high waist? That would be called Koshidaka. The Japanese term also refers to the length between the base and the first branch of the tree.


The method of dipping a bonsai pot into a water-filled basin is known as Koshimizu. Performing this process allows bonsai pots to absorb water from the bottom of the pot. It is a great way to prevent pots from experiencing a water shortage during summers.

Kuitsuki Eda

Is considered a branch smaller than the others and appears fastened to the trunk. Kuitsuiki eda is often seen in old and large trees but is not present among the young and thriving ones.


This Japanese term refers to branch or trunk wiring to create an elegant effect on the tree. Sometimes, Kyokuzuke is also called Moyozuke, or the making of patterns.



An amendment to the typical bonsai soil, lava is from crushed volcanic ash.


This propagation method involves inducing a stem by surrounding it with soil to send out roots.


Is the main shoot that can be seen at the top of trees

Lime Sulfur

Is the common chemical used in preserving bonsais’ Jin and Shari (dead wood). Lime sulfur whitens the stripped branch or trunk to mature a jin or shari. It also prevents infection while bleaching bonsai trees, giving them a natural color.


Considered a rich soil, loam is composed of organic matter, clay, and sand.



Pronounced ma-may, Mame is a term that refers to bonsai sizes. These types of bonsais are no more than 10 cm in height and can easily be held in the palm of our hands.


Is the term referring to those buds that sprout from places that don’t usually produce buds.


Or bud trimming. Mekiri is the act of trimming buds to achieve strength in the growth of pine trees. Doing this process is non-uniform and varies depending on the species and seasons.


This is the technical term for Hariganekake wiring work. Meokoshi refers to picking a bud at the tip of its branch through wires. This kind of work is aimed at expressing dynamism and appearance improvement.  


Is the process of curving new buds in a downward direction using wires. Meosae is an important part of shaping bonsais into the form you like, especially if they are still young and produce many fresh buds.


This is the spongy inner tissue of leaves. A mesophyll’s function is similar to the stems and roots’ cortex. It stores carbon dioxide and water vapor during photosynthesis.


This grafting technique refers to grafting tree buds into branches and trunks. Performing Metsugi work is best done during the months of August to September.


Or pinching out buds is the act of pinching out new buds during the early spring in order to curb excessive growth of the tree tops and branches. Metsumi also allows bonsais to grow evenly.


Literally means green picking. Midoritsumi is the trimming of fresh buds that have no leaves yet. Generally, it is best performed during the early spring for Akamatsu (Japanese Red Pine), Goyomatsu (Japanese White Pine), and Kuromatsu (Japanese Black Pine) trees.


Which literally means trunk surface, refers to the bark surface of a tree’s trunk. The Mikihada is also another way to determine a bonsai tree’s quality. It is a representation of the bonsai’s antiquity.


Literally translates to trunk patterns. Mikimoyo refers to the curve line of tree trunks forming the basis of trees’ forms. There are two types of Mikimoyo: the natural curve and the artificial one.


This Japanese term refers to those bonsai trees that are grown from seeds. Misho also refers to the act of planting seeds and cultivating them. This method is suitable for beginner bonsai artists because it does not require great care.

Miyama kaido

Is a collective term for the Zumi plants. Miyama kaido bears a single blossom of rose pink and white colors in the month of April. After producing beautiful blossoms, its green fruit then turns red and yellow.


Or water drainage. Mizunuke involves the draining of water at the bottom of the bonsai pot. It is sometimes also called Mizuhake.


Literally means termination of water supply, Mizugire is the shortfall of water in a pot. It causes branches to die or for leaves to fall or wither.


Or living portion refers to the living portions of a trunk on Shimpaku (Sargent’s Juniper) and Tosho (Japanese Needle Juniper) trees that have bleached and withered tree tops or branches.


Or watering, is the most important process when growing bonsais or any plant. Providing adequate and the right amount of water supply for bonsais is crucial since they are in a limited space.


This is the term referring to bonsai trees’ years of cultivation in a pot. It is well known in the bonsai world that bonsai trees cultivated in a pot for a long period takes on a natural sense of elegance.


Or simply degrading. Mochikuzusu is a tree that grows too much and is unable to maintain its tree shape. It also means that the shape will eventually deteriorate when key elements of the ree are broken.  


This Japanese term means a circular-shaped pot. Mokkobachi has a petal-shaped edge and looks a lot like a flower petal of Japanese Quince. They are mostly suitable for Kabudachi (multiple trunk trees) or Takan (fruit-bearing multi trunks).


Or Irohamomiji is the leading species of the Kaede genus trees that are commonly known as maple. And as far as bonsais go, the Yamamomiji is the one used in general. Its English name is Japanese maple, and it grows wildly in the areas along the Sea of Japan coast.  


This means that the knags of branches and trunks are slim. But in the bonsai world, slim trunk knags are perceived as unstable and are not well received.   


Or chamber. Muro includes facilities that protect bonsais from freezing, frost, and snow during the winter season. Muro can be a prefabricated house, greenhouse, or any other closed chamber that prevents damage to bonsai trees.


This beneficial white fungus is typically found in the surrounding soil of pine trees. The presence of mycorrhiza enables these trees to absorb nutrients.



This Japanese term is used for Miginagare or right flow and Hidarinagare or left flow.


This is the act of caring and treating roots while bonsais are being repotted. Nearai helps in clearing all the dirt that accumulated in the roots since they started developing. 


This refers to the visible condition of roots. The ideal one for bonsais is the Happonebari, where roots extend in all directions, allowing trees to have steady forms.  


Refers to root trimming, Nebuse is most suited for Japanese Quinces, roses, Mossmin, and Malus halliana.


Used to describe the leaves of conifers such as pin trees and junipers. Needles are narrow, stiff, and often prickly.


Involves the withering and suffering of roots because of changes in conditions. Negusare may even potentially lead to a tree losing its life.


Is the act of watering bonsai trees at their roots and not at their crowns. Nemizu is used in contrast with Hamizu, which is the act of moistening leaves with water.


This Japanese term literally means a sleeping bud. Nemurime is a bud that comes out in fall or later and will not become a leaf next spring. This phenomenon is often observed among Shohaku evergreen pine trees.


This procedure deals with the roots of plants that have been picked from the mountains, repotting cultivated plants, and potting field cultivated plants.


Or the dirt that closely adhered to the bonsai’s roots during growth.


Also known as grafted root. Netsugi is achieved by grafting where visible roots are insufficient.


A tree form, Netsuranari refers to trees with trunks extending from a single root in a somewhat ground-hugging manner. Only a couple of species will grow this way, and among them are Goyomatsu (Japanese White Pine), Sugi (Japanese Cedar), Tosho (Needle Juniper), and Yamamomiji (Matsumurae Maple) trees.


Or a second bud mainly refers to Kuromatsu (Japanese Pine Trees) acquiring a second bud. While naturally only appears once a year, a secondary bud can also immediately follow the first bud and is called Nibamme second bud.


Is the phenomenon when chopped branches and trunks glue together and then heal after some time. Nikumaki often occurs in Japanese maple trees and Trident maples.


Is an assential element that every plants and tree require in order to develop stems and foliage.


Is a growth point for buds, leaves, and shoots to appear on branches or trunks.


This is an acronym for the major nutrients bonsais require: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.



This is a descriptive word for showy bonsais that are specifically grown for the purpose of decorations.


Holding bonsais in large containers that are bigger than what is necessary


Act of providing water to bonsais that is more than what they require. Overwatering and poorly draining soil decrease the amount of air available to the roots.


This is a method of trimming and cutting close to a bud in root parts. Oikomi is performed as a form of tip renewal for a branch to keep it thin because it thickens through the years.



This organic soil component is derived from rotted moss. And while it can be beneficial, peat is unpopular among bonsai enthusiasts.


When exposed to very high heat expands, volcanic ash forms perlite. This material being lightweight makes it ideal for potting mixes to allow good drainage and prevent soil compaction.


Is a leaf stalk that is attached to the stem.


This is a layer of tree tissue inside the bark that helps in conducting food from the plant’s leaves to its stem and roots.

Phoenix Graft

This technique involves attaching a sapling to a deadwood


Identified by the chemical symbol P, phosphorous is an essential element when it comes to bonsai nutrition as it encourages fruit and seeds ripening as well as root development.


This is the process wherein plants convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates. Photosynthesis happens with the help of sunlight and chlorophyll.

pH Measure

This is the measure of the acidity or basicity of materials that are dissolved in water and is expressed on a scale of 0 to 14, with 0 as the most acidic and 14 as the most basic.


This technique is used for controlling and shaping the soft new growth of foliage through careful pulling off small shoots.


Or in its English name, Firethorn is a species belonging to the Pyracantha genus. Pirakansa refers to the plants Tachibanamodoki (Pyracantha crenulate) and Tokiwasanzashi (Pyracantha aungustifolia).


A container that holds the bonsai, a pot is usually made of high-fired clay. In addition, the Chinese or Japanese word bon means tray or shallow pot.


Identified by the chemical symbol K, potassium is the third most essential element in every plant’s nutrition. It helps with the development of buds and fruit and encourages new growth.


Happens when the plants growing inside a pot stop having enough space for soil and air that helps root growth. This is also referred to as root-bound.


Or Potential Bonsai


Young trees and plants that have not yet been trained to become a bonsai


This may just be the most important method in training bonsais. Pruning involves trimming branches and leaves.


The eruption of magma forms this light-colored volcanic rock. Pumice contains abundant trapped gas bubbles and is usually used as a soil amendment.



The wisteria plant is a long flower stem with many separate flower stalks, a perfect example of a raceme.


It has soft, pliable fiber that originates from the raffia palm that does not shrink when wet. Raffia takes on a yellowish hue after being dried in the sun but can still be dyed into other colors. It is also used in wrapping branches and trunks before bending.

Raft Style

This bonsai style involves numerous trunks grown vertically from the connecting base, usually a section that mimics a fallen tree.


This is the repeated division of branches into secondary branches through pruning.


Or the Golden Bell is a deciduous shrub species. Rengyo is of Chinese origin that bears yellow flowers and is suitable for bonsai cultivation as it produces small leaves and has an overall small stature.  


This method is used hand-in-hand with air-layering. Ring-barking involves removing a section of the bark from around the branch or trunk to promote root growth in that particular area.

Rock Planting

Bonsais that grow on rocks and create a dramatic visual effect.

Root Ball

This is the large mass of roots and soil visible when bonsais are removed from their pots.

Root Flare

Or Nebari is the exposed mound of surface roots at the base of tree trunks. Root flares are known to provide visual balance.

Rooting Hormone

May be in powder or liquid form, rooting hormone is used in promoting root development on a cutting. It is formulated for cutting propagation and stimulating root development.

Root Over Rock

This is a technique wherein trees are planted over a rock with their roots extending downwards in order to reach the surrounding soil.

Root Pruning

This is the process of cutting back roots during repotting and will encourage root growth and promote future growth.

Root Stock

Intended for plant cultivation purposes through grafting. The grafted stem will be inserted into the root system, and the main stem will be used as the base of new trees.


Or literally a candle-flame bud is a winter bud that grows in what appears to be a lengthy candle-flame form. Rosokume buds come out during autumn to winter from vigorous parts of a tree.


Is also known in English as the Chinese persimmon. Royagaki produces lamp-shaped flowers during the month of May and will then develop pointed green fruits that measure 2 cm in length after.



Or a wounded tree is a Japanese term describing a tree with a split or open trunk.


This is a form of display that features stones, plants, and trees on a tray. Usually contains other figurines.


The virtual completion of the process of composing a tree is called Saku. And similarly to farm products, they are influenced by climatic conditions.


Or the famous Japanese Cherry is perceived as one of the most difficult plants to cultivate as bonsai. Sakura trees will die from a cut side after pruning. Hence, bonsai artists must avoid cutting Sakura bonsais’ old branches.


This is the Japanese term referring to the triple trunk style of bonsais.


Or Crape Myrtle has flowers that remain in bloom for long periods of time. This is why it is also called Hyakujitsuko. Translation: blooming for 100 days.


Acting as the focal point of a tree, Sasshieda is a directional or show branch. They are usually big, long, and thick. They are determined by:

  • Condition of the Nebari
  • Height of the tree
  • State of the Tachiagari
  • Thickness of the trunk
  • Part of the tree from the Nebari surface roots


Or growing from cuttings is a method used to put a part of a plant into the soil in order to create new growth. The branches and leaves used are called Sashiho, and the soil used is called Sashidoko.


Also known by its English name Macranthum Azalea, is the leading species for flowering bonsais. Varieties exceed 2 000 and may be categorized into five groups: koka, kyuka, chushinka, shinka, and saishinka.

Seasonal Bonsai

These are bonsai species that have a limited time being their best selves. It may refer to whenever plants are in bloom or bearing fruits.


This Japanese term literally means squared-shape pot. Seihobachi is a square pot when viewed from above. Since these types of pots, along with the Chohobachi rectangular containers, are cornered, they are often used to play up dynamism.


Is a Japanese term that literally means decorating a seat. It is sometimes also called Sekichinretsu or seat display.

Sekkai iogozai

This is an agrochemical lime sulfur that is a reddish-brown yet transparent water solution that contains 27.5 percent of calcium polysulfide. Sekkai iogozai is generally used as a germicide in removing ticks and scale insects.


This is the distance between two buds.


Or fossilization is when plant parts become flattened or in a state of removing dust. Sekkasho is usually seen among trees and plants used in Ikebana flower arrangements.


This Japanese phrase refers to trees planted on rocks and shows exposed roots that run down the rock.


Is the act of planning and trimming trees. The purpose of Sentei is to maintain the height and form of matured trees, prevent pests, and promote sprouting.


Also known as slanting, Shakan is a Japanese bonsai style where trees are grown at a slanting angle, with the first branch in the opposite direction of the leaning trunk.


Any exposed dead wood on bonsai trunks is referred to as Shari. This Japanese term gives the impression of struggles against natural and extreme elements.


This is the Japanese term for driftwood.


Another bonsai style, Shidare-zukuri is the Japanese term for the weeping branch style.


This is a ramification process involving form tightening to stem branch growth.


Or in its English name, Chinese Juniper, is a variant of Miyama Byajushin. Shimpaku trees also grow wildly in coastal and alpine areas of Yakushima Island.


It is a Japanese term that represents the new growth of branches happening in the current year.


This is the Japanese term for lower branches that are coming out near the tree’s base regardless of length. If it appears from the very bottom, it is called Ichino Eda (first or lowest branch).


Encompasses the essential qualities that trees must possess. Sho depicts the “character of leaves,” “good nature,” and “nature of the skin.”


This Japanese term refers to bonsais that are less than 10 inches from the apex to the roots.


It is the main and most important tree on display.


Is the main trunk in a group. Shukan is the name used for the tallest and thickest trunk, which holds the core position in the group.


Involves sorting the soil and removing large stones and dust particles.


This Japanese term symbolizes the ornamental accent to a tree through the coming together of deciduous trees, flowers, and main ornaments. Soe enlivens a display.

Soil Sieve

This is an instrument used in removing fine particles that may potentially cause drainage issues. A sieve is also used to grade the soil.


Is the Japanese term for the twin-trunk bonsai style.


This is the bottom part of the roots that come into view under the trunk. They are also cut deeply during transplantation.


This is the basic categorical classification to identify common characteristics of biological entities. It is also the major subdivision of a certain genus.

Sphagnum Moss

This spongy and water-retentive material is used in surrounding circular cuts when air-layering branches or trees as a whole.


This is the natural process of exposing seeds to freezing temperatures during winter. Doing so encourages the seeds to start the process of germination.


The way that bonsais are shaped is called Style. This helps in complimenting the direction of the trunk while providing aesthetical appeal.


Is any material that bonsais grow in


Includes plants that are water-retaining with fleshy leaves and stems. Succulents are typically found in arid climates.


Its English name is Japanese Cedar, and it grows in every part of Japan with the exception of Hokkaido. Several varieties of Sugi are developed as construction materials.


This ceramic tray has no drainage, which allows for the pouring of gravel or water to create displays with rock plantings.


Or water-stone is derived from the Japanese terms Sui, which means water, and Seki, which means stone. Combined, Suiseki is the art of displaying naturally-evolved rocks.


This Japanese term means the thinning of buds, leaves, and roots.



Is the lowest part of a trunk without branches and pertains to a section of the base where the trunk grows.


This Japanese term refers to a branch that has grown too long among other tree branches. Tochoshi must be removed because their imperfections throw the other branches into disorder.


Is when trees are planted at a soil level higher than the bonsai pot rim. Takaue is a method adopted to emphasize a fine portion of the planted root.


Or table. This is used for displaying bonsais. Taku tables are often rectangular and made of four legs. Such tables vary in height and shape:

  • Chutaku or medium
  • Hirataku or flat
  • Kitaku or desk
  • Kotaku or tall
  • Makitaku or curved legs
  • Netaku or roots


Or organic fertilizer balls are solid and dry fertilizers that are crafted in squares and balls. Tamahi is an ideal fertilizer for bonsais because they sustain their effectiveness but do not dissolve quickly.


Is a wooden display for bonsais. Tanakazari involves arranging several pieces of bonsai to display on a Chinese wood shelf.


This refers to the act of putting a branch shelf with layers of branches that are neatly organized and divided into several layers.


A small branch that appears in the same year. Tanshi is an undergrown branch emerging near the base where other branches are extended. It is also called a kind of byproduct flower.


The Japanese style where a tree is attached to deadwood is called Tanuki. It is also known as Phoenix Graft.


Similar to Mekiri, Tanyoho refers to bud trimming. Carrying out this method requires sufficient spraying of water and nutrition for pine trees the year before, then thinning the leaves come March of the current year.


The restyling of tree structure that is needed due to problems involving the length and form of the branches and trunk is called Tatekae.


This is the outermost tip or apical

Terminal Bud

This is the bud that forms at the tips of branchlets, stems, or twigs


This is a term used when there is too much space between branches and buds. Tobu literally means to fly.


This refers to the traditional Japanese display area where bonsais are brought indoors for some time to be displayed with accent calligraphy and other plants.


Means cut off or a stop. This Japanese term refers to the act of chopping off a branch.


In contrast to the bonsai process, topiary is the practice of sculpting and trimming full-size trees and shrubbery into ornamental shapes.


Is the Japanese term for air-layering. It is the process wherein roots develop by trimming the bark of a trunk.


In English translates to Needle Juniper or Temple Juniper. It has fine and sharp needles that can sting a rat. During springtime, it sheds pollen because it is a dioecious plant. Tosho seeds appear dark purple in color and are used in Chinese herbal medicine.


The natural process wherein water is lost from plant stems and leaf surfaces.

Trunk Leader

This is a previous uppermost branch part of a trunk trained to grow as an extension of the said trunk.


This refers to a branch that is sliced off a mother tree.


This is a grafting technique that involves the asexual reproduction of trees. Tsugiki is a method used for wholesale increase in the seeds that are carrying similar properties to those of the parent trees, all in a single attempt.


This is a Japanese way of planting dozens of seedlings by lump. The roots of the seedlings come close together because of how they are attached to one another and will develop into trunks that have an interesting flavor.

Tufa Rock

A type of soft limestone, tufa rock is formed when evaporation of water occurs from lime-rich waters that leave calcite to crystallize. When iron oxides are involved, the tufa takes a yellowish and reddish color.



This is the soil used when bonsais are planted in a pot. In general, though, Uetsuchi is called Yodo or soil for horticulture but is separate from both Kesho tuchi (sand used as top-dressing) and Gorotsuchi (largest grain in Akatsuchi soil used for good drainage).


A counterweight to Kikieda or point branch, Ukeeda is usually located on the opposite side of trees. It helps in keeping the balance with the strength of Kikieda.


Or Japanese Apricot has been loved by everyone in Japan since ancient times. It has about 300 gardening species, with the Yabai wild apricots as the most used for bonsai cultivation.


English name, Japanese Winterberry. This literally means mock ume (Japanese apricot) or ume-oid. Its name is because of how the branches and leaves form a Umemidoki that looks like ume.

Under Watering

This happens when plants don’t receive enough water to remain healthy


This is the Japanese term for hollow trunk parts that remains after the wood rots.


Is a term referring to a back branch that extends to the back of tree trunks. Ushiroeda is also called Uraeda or the backside branch. This branch is said to be in good appearance if the roots are not seen but visible from the front of the tree.


This term refers to the visible surface roots coming out of the base to spread at the top part of the pot. Some Uwane is also active in areas near the face of the soil.


Or surface soil commonly refers to the microscopic soil spreading over the uetsuchi soil on the pot surface. It is sometimes also referred to as Keshotsuchi or silver-white sand.  



Two two-toned leaves but predominantly green with specks of cream, olive, and yellow spots.


This is the third name in the Latin terminology. For example, Acer palmatum Deshojo.


Once a mineral called mica expands after heating to form sponge-like granules, it is transformed into a vermiculite state. This is a substance added to soil and compost because of its air and water holding capabilities which ultimately aid in spreading nutrients within the soil.



Used when cutting and pruning tools need sharpening


A type of aphid that sucks on sap that is commonly found in indoor bonsais. Whitefly infestation needs to be treated immediately to avoid population increase and prevent severe damage.


This technique involves wrapping branches or trunks in wire and then bending them with the aim of getting trees to grow a particular way.

Wound Sealant

This thick paste compound is used for containing moisture over new cuts and wounds to bonsai trees.



This is the area below the cambium layer of trunks



Synonymous with Hikobae, Yagome means coming out of Fuetiga indefinite buds from the roots or any part of the roots. If left untouched, Yagome causes the exiting small branches to lose their strength.


This refers to the trunk dying toward the roots from the wound after cutting a thick branch. Yakekomu typically hits Shohaku evergreen pines but can be mainly observed among Satsuki (Macrantum Azalea), Zakuro (Pomegranate), and Zoki deciduous trees.


Is the Japanese word for a key useful branch. Yakueda is that branch necessary in making up a tree’s feature. It is also helpful in shaping the tree’s form and therefore provides elegance and momentum.


These are trees that are collected and gathered from the wild and used for bonsai cultivation. Yamadori are also naturally dwarfed by harsh environments and natural phenomena.


Or dwarf variety, this term refers to a variety of trees that will not grow into large ones, unlike their ordinary counterparts of the same species. Yatsufusa trees are highly valued in the bonsai world since they are more suitable for bonsai cultivation than any other trees.


This is a type of grafting method where trees with existing roots are grafted into stock trees. Yobitsugi is especially useful for species that can be difficult to cultivate in pots.


This Japanese term literally means horizontal root. Yokone are those roots that extend in a horizontal direction in their container.

Yose Ue

This Japanese term refers to a forest or group planting comprised of an odd number of trees.


Or consolidant refers to a paste form chemical substance that is painted over a wound after pruning and Edunaki removal of unwanted branches. This effectively prevents wounds from decaying and helps promote tissue growth at the wound.



This is the base or foundation of trees and is considered as one of the accomplishments of Nebari, which is a term associated with how roots make themselves visible on the soil surface. This is possible because the roots branch off finely and thinly, all the while spreading horizontally.


It is derived from a Japanese word that means meditation. It is a form of Buddhism that developed in Japan.