What does your American Shohin display look like?

Give yourself the next 10-20 years to create your ideal American Shohin Display.

What type of native trees would you pick?
What might your stand, pots, etc. look like?



Wild plum or Black cherry. See the picture for idea about a pot and stand.
Walter Pall image



Hmm, interesting.

My 5 trees would be:
Shore Pine
Pygmy Cypress
California Black Oak or Oregon White Oak
Black Hawthorn

I think I would choose more informal pots. Same for the rack, maybe something with monkey poles but with raw looking wood poles rather than square/round poles.

Man, I have none of this. Time to get to work, thanks for the inspiration :slight_smile:


Thanks @Bonsai_bob! I sure love the idea of Native flowering Prunus. I’m curious what specific native species you like? I’ve seen some decent collected Chicksaw Plum, but not a ton of native prunus. Pretty sure the second picture is not a native plum-however it’s def a beautiful tree.

Would love to see this display, maybe someday I will! Great choices, all great material-i’m not familiar with Black Hawthorn, i’ll have to look into that. So would the Shore pine go on the top of the rack/stand?

It would be really cool if someone could pull off a more specific shohin display, for example all trees from the Sierra, Rocky Mountains, all CA natives, all Florida natives or something like that.


I do believe the traditional Japanese shohin display is representative of geological elevation. That is why the juniper or pine is always at the top. Not all states (or nearby states) have mountains, so I guess if you go regionally, this could be fudged a little. In most cases, there would still be a pine, juniper or hemlock at the top. I would also choose the wild cherry . American elm would/should be a must. An American maple or oak too.

We are pretty much copying the Japanese at this point with the stands and pots, and with some, it is expected here. I believe we will evolve the art form here to have different presentations. Copying is just the first stage of learning something. The Japanese tend to look for perfection and age and believe those thing give a bonsai value. Nature is far from perfect. The plain is not as beautiful without the mountain. It is the imperfections in most things that make them beautiful and perfect. That is why I would never put one of my trees in a geometric pot. It just does not belong. Absolute perfection is for machines that do not know any better.

I like asymmetrical pots that fit with the form and aesthetic of the tree. I would also build my stand to be more asymmetrical. Leave more space for that plains tree and not put a tree right on top of another.

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What’s interesting (to me at least) these all cover different parts of where I’ve lived on the west coast (Northern California, Central California Coast, Nevada and now the Pacific Northwest).

The black hawthorn is more of a shrub in the wild, but I think it could make a nice native flowering deciduous bonsai tree. My other thought was a vine maple instead of the hawthorn, which is another of my favorite native deciduous species.

The more I think about it, the pygmy cypress stands out a little as not quite fitting to me. Most of these other trees are more Sierra Nevada/Cascade trees. Maybe that could get replaced with a Sierra Nevada Juniper or another native conifer. Dunno, maybe not.

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That’s cool and interesting, would love to see what you come up with:)

As far as the geological elevation thing- I don’t necessarily think it’s exactly elevation based, or that may be a factor, however it’s mostly based on popularity of species in Japan. You most frequently see that top spot(aka most prestigious spot) occupied by a Black Pine which is not a high elevation tree, it’s a native to coastal areas. It’s been explained to me that it’s because Black Pine is the, “King of Bonsai.” I think in general Conifers occupy that spot most frequently because they are generally valued greater compared with Deciduous/broad-leaf evergreen. It may also have just become the norm over time for a variety of factors in the Japanese bonsai community.