compiled by Robert J. Baran

This Page Last Updated: April 10, 2016

Index by Family
Magnoliophyta - Rosidae I
Magnoliophyta - Asteridae
Magnoliophyta - Caryophyllidae
Magnoliophyta - Dilleniidae
Magnoliophyta - Hamamelididae
Magnoliophyta - Magnoliidae
Magnoliophyta - Ranunculidae
Magnoliophyta - Rosidae II


This ongoing compilation is derived (so far) from Phoenix Bonsai Society Taxonomic Analysis (the granddaddy of this list),
Pikes Peak Bonsai Society Care Information, Part I, Chinese Schools of Penjing, Earliest Western Reports, Less Usual Plants as Bonsai
and the related Rare species of bonsai thread on the Internet Bonsai Club Forum, plus its Succulent bonsai thread;
Australian Native Plants as Bonsai - 2005, - 2006, - 2007, - 2008; Bonsai exhibition in Vietnam 2011;
The Bonsai Features Guide; Chinese Bonsai Garden; Felab 2008; List of species used in bonsai; List of bonsai on stamps;
Indoor bonsai; Virginia Cooperative Extension: The Art of Bonsai; Bonsai Palms; Ficus Species Guide; Nama Spesies Tanaman Bonsai;
New Zealand Bonsai; Australian Plants as Bonsai Study Group early newsletters;
A Philippine Bonsai Database; Singapore Botanic Gardens Bonsai; bonsai; BCI's Index of Bonsai Species;
What are some of the most unusual bonsais you've grown; Ma-Ke Bonsai Bonsai Care Guide; (A-O, in progress).
Kev Bailey  "Unusual Bonsai Species and Styles," of Bonsai Magazine;
Richard W. Bender  Herbal Bonsai (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books; 1996);
Constance T. Derderian (ed.)  Bonsai For Indoors, A Handbook (Brooklyn Botanic Garden; 1976);
Directors of the Japan Bonsai Association  The Masters' Book of Bonsai (Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd.; 1967; 1986,
Seventh printing of American paperback edition);
Evergreen Gardenworks (Ukiah, CA), Spring 1997 Descriptive Catalog and Price List;
Adam Harrower  "How about indigenous?";
Fred Lape  "A Collection of Native Bonsai," New York Times, 1961;
Kunio Kobayashi  Bonsai (PIE International; 2011);
Bum-young Sung  The Spirited Garden (Kyung-Gi-do, South Korea: Gimm-young books; 2005);
William N. Valavannis (ed.)  Commemorative Album of the Second United States National Bonsai Exhibition
(Rochester, NY: International Bonsai Arboretum; 2010);
Yuji Yoshimura and Giovanna M. Halford's The art of bonsai: creation, care and enjoyment
(Boston, Rutland, VT, Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing; 1957; thirty-seventh reprinting, 2000), pp. 206-210;
Sunset Bonsai (Menlo Park, CA: Sunset Publishing Corp.; 1994, 1976, 1965);
Jyoti and Nikunj Parekh's Wonderworld of Tropical Bonsai (Vakils, Feffer and Simons Ltd, 1983?) and Wonderworld of Bonsai & Saikei (Vakils et al, 1984?);
Zhao Qingquan's Literati Style Penjing, Chinese Bonsai Masterworks (Shanghai Press, 2015); plus
Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society hand-out "Trees and shrubs with bonsai potential for your collection" (c.1988+)
with cross-references at Wikipedia, The Plant List, and the USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network, among several other similar pages,
IUCN Red List Critically Endangered species (Plantae), USDA National Invasive Species Information Center,
Encyclopedia of Invasive Species, Vol. I, IASI Database by Country (to Brunei, in progress), Pioneer Plants,
and Pioneer Species - Re-establishing Woodland, Flora of China, PALMweb -- Palms of the World Online, and TheFreeDictionary.
Also, specimens shown by my various Facebook friends (which botanical names are then double-checked as well.)

(Still to add from Overview of Bonsai Tree Species.)

(We do not consider information from sites that only list "bonsai seeds"...)

For the arbitrary sake of simplicity and standardization, we have alphabetized all names listed within/under each classification
without further concern for the relatedness of the plants bearing those names.

NOTE: We have chosen not to be concerned here with listing out the various clades, subfamilies, tribes, subspecies;
varieties (distinct forms, usually geographically separated), cultivars (cultivated varieties),
or hybrids (crosses between two or more species, usually shown as "Genus x species").

And we are aware that taxonomy is a dynamic science, with genetic examination of plants sometimes tweaking where we think they fit in this man-made categorizing system.
Most of the scientific plant names herein come from The Plant List.  There are a few names which this authorative source has not yet definitely determined --
we have not specified those here.  Other sources, beginning at the university-level, were then sought after for clarification or assistance in decision-making in the case of some plant names.

The first edition of this list was published in September 2012 and comprised a single long page.
The second edition, by early 2013, was split into two long pages and included some <"cultivar counts"> for the most popular 20 species, some synonyms,
and the start of noting if the bonsai version could have fruit or flowers and color-changing leaves.
Soon afterwards, the third edition was split into separate pages by division or subclass with some species noted as being endangered, pioneer or invasive
and a few genera or species marked as having toxic sap or other components.  An index by plant family was added.
Starting in mid-March 2014, this fourth edition starts to include botantical name authorities.
And each edition has had many more plants listed than previously.

So far we have chosen not to link pictures or additional information, plant zone requirements, or relative degree of difficulty for these plants in containers.
Linking pictures alone would add much to the size of most of these pages --
especially on the more popular species, how do we decide what are the "best" styles or most representative compositions as examples?  (Baby steps...)

There are other characteristics we have started researching which will eventually be added into these lists.

Just know that these species have either mostly been made into a bonsai at one time or another, or else a few have been highly recommended for this art.
This listing is meant to include at least 95% of all plants employed as principle "trees" in the various magical miniature landscapes worldwide.
Please be mindful that not every cultivar of each of these species is suited for container life.

Initial listing of Family mycorrhizal types is from Mycorrhizal Status of Plant Families and Genera and Types of Mycorrhizal Plants (in process).
Genera that are different than the main Family have a * preceding the Genus mycorrhizal type.
Genera with alternative names the same as a different type from the Family's have, somewhat arbitrarily, been also assigned that different mycorrhizal type.
Genera without specific mycorrhizal types are assumed to share the Family's type.  Families without a type are still being researched.  More details are forthcoming.

See also this Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database.

Anyone who knows of additional species used as bonsai or updates/corrections to this listing
is asked to please contact  Thank-you.

For the latest, most accurate version of this list,
please ONLY download this page directly from

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Index by Family
Magnoliophyta - Rosidae I
Magnoliophyta - Asteridae
Magnoliophyta - Caryophyllidae
Magnoliophyta - Dilleniidae
Magnoliophyta - Hamamelididae
Magnoliophyta - Magnoliidae
Magnoliophyta - Ranunculidae
Magnoliophyta - Rosidae II

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