What tree is a "must have" in any collection?

I mean, who can have too many trees, but is there a tree out there that you feel like every bonsai practitioner should have? Not necessarily a wish list tree, but a pre-requisite tree? In my book it’s a trident maple. Sadly I don’t have one, but I will get one this year at some point.


If I had to choose, I’d say a juniper (or shinpaku specifically) is a tree that everyone should have some experience with.

Though I’d argue that nothing is ‘required’ for a bonsai practitioner.


I have a few juniper lol. Yeah, I didn’t quite know how to word it. The answer is going to be very subjective, but I’m just curious. I have this weird feeling like my collection isn’t complete until I add a trident maple. When someone says “Picture a bonsai tree” that’s what immediately pops into my head.

I recently picked up a Japanese Black Pine because I felt like it was a great fundamental species to work with. I feel the same way about Japanese Maple. This is a great question. As an American, I now want to give some thought to native North American trees in this context. What do you all think are “fundamental” bonsai trees from your countries or regions?


Trees that are native to my area are juniiperus virginiana and juniperus communis. Futher west there is the juniperus scorpulorum and picea pungens and pinus ponderosa. For deciduous we have cercis canadensis, carpinus caroliniana, further west are populus tremuloides, and acer circinatum…
Each one has wonderful potential to exhibit the natural world around us and to evoke wonder.

maybe not utilized as much as the standard trees seen in Japan… but I don’t live in Japan.

I’ve recently been drawn to natives as well. Over the last couple of months I’ve collected a Carolina Willow, Groundsel, Loblolly and a Juniperus Virginiana. I want to add a Wax Myrtle and River Birch. That’ll round out my natives collection which also contains Bald Cypress and Live Oak.

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While still quite at the beginning of my bonsai journey, I would like to mainly expand into native trees too and especially Yamadori. Since I’m living near the Alps and climbing is my big hobby besides bonsai, my goal for this year is to try combining my hobbies by looking for Yamadori in hard to access mountain areas. Since we’re having an exceptionally warm winter, I hope the snow line will soon rise far enough for a first trip.
Besides that, a I would love to have a large juniper some time.


Ugh, vary*. Stupid typo. :weary:

Interesting question, but it is limited by zone. It brings up a related question: do you have a vision of a “complete” collection? Is a collection ever complete?

My collection has been “complete” about 5 times now. :laughing:


I’ve just been using the categories in the Library as a guide: juniper (check), pine, deciduous (check), elongating (check), broadleaf evergreen (check), and tropical/flowering.


I have all of those lol

… in honesty id have to decide between a standard acer palmatum and a jwp. I just like them the best. but im starting to like my local woods alot more . i apologize for poor grammar and spelling, its something i never took pride in.

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I can’t get my hands on a JWP that doesn’t cost way more than I’d like to spend on it. Ironically, I still haven’t found a trident that I like enough to add to my collection.

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same here, i got lucky on 2 maples in bad shape from home depot. they thought they were dead lol. i used covid 19 to my advantage on nursery.. japanese veriety pines disappear too fast if they show up at all in my local area. i have grown jwp from seed a few times.. the rumers are true they rarely survive the second spring..  Dont give up the search. and in my opinion growng from seed is well worth it. it gives me more pride than nursery stock, and i just enjoy watching them grow. its what brought me to bonsai after the army. i thought i was doing awesome till i found bonsai mirai now i feel brand new and clueless lol in a good way.

Covid-19 made my nurseries even worse. The little mom and pop one I used to go to has never been busier. It’s crazy, but SC is the only state to get an F in terms of social distancing so it makes sense lol.

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i was buying when they were blocked off too haha no cashier stopped me… i got lucky cause the thought they were dead… i guess they didnt get the memo about the strength of japanese maples and leaf budding. both trees lost 0 branches. shoots all up and down the trunks and the root stock sent buds too so i have two free standard palmatums… horrible graft work too. so they are mainly for propigation practice… listed 80 a piece payed 35 for for both … late fall is another good time too. most gardeners dont know dormancy is the best time to plant trees. working construction learned me that. im a poor man so i have to think different with things. especially pots.