Bonsai is a dwarfed tree growing in a tray or a pot. “Bon” means tray or pot in Japanese; “sai” means to plant; therefore bonsai means literally planted in a tray. It is an art of dwarfing trees or plants and developing them into an aesthetically appearing shape by growing pruning and training them in a container according to a prescribed technique. Bonsai are not special plants but rather ordinary plants grown in a special way. A bonsai “tree” can be made of almost any woody plant material, including trees, shrubs or vines. Species with small leaves and are tolerant to heavy pruning are considered desirable as bonsai material. Bonsai-making is an interesting hobby or even a profession. For plant propagators/gardeners it may be an additional source of income aside from the personal satisfaction they experience.
For in this issue of RISE, we are providing you important information on the species popularly used as bonsai material. - Celso P. Diaz
1. Bantigi Common name: Bantigi Local names: Ngirad (Ilocos Norte); kulasi (Rizal); bantigi (Tayabas, Cebu); legad (Palawan, Zamboanga, Sulu) Scientific name: Pemphis acidula Forster Family: Lythraceae
Description: An evergreen shrub or small tree up to 10 m tall or more; bole is often short and crooked, up to 20 (-40) cm in diameter; bark surface becomes deeply fissured with age and flakes into long strips, light grey to dark grey-brown. Wood is hard, twigs are angular. Leaves are simple, opposite, fleshy, silky haired. Flowers with axillary petals are white, and clawed. Fruits are in capsule. Seed has thick marginal wings.
Distribution: Pemphis is a monotypic genus occurring along the shores of East Africa and Madagascar to Sri Lanka, India, Burma (Myanmar), Indo-China, China, the Ryukyu Island, Taiwan, Thailand, throughout the Malesian region, northern Australia and the Pacific east to Fuji, Tonga and Pitcain Island. Indigenous to Indo-Malaya and Polynesia.
Uses: P. acidula is planted as ornamental and bonsai. In the Philippines, living plants are harvested together with the rocky substrate and are exported to Taiwan where it is used in rock gardens. In Indonesia, it is planted as cover crop in forest plantations. The wood is used as house posts, fence posts, tool handles, walking sticks, kris handles and sheaths, novelties, domestic implements, turnery, anchor, boat nails and pestles. The leaves can be eaten raw as salad.
Habitat: P. acidula occurs in areas disturbed by man. The trees are scattered in lowland forests, open mangrove vegetation, along seashores and monsoon forests.It is uncommon but may be locally gregarious.
Environmental Requirements: In the Philippines, P. acidula usually grows in corallino rocks and on limestone boulders.
Propagation: Through seeds.
2. Batulinao, Ebony Common name: Batulinao, Ebony Scientific name: Diospyros ferrea (Willd.) Bakh. Family: Ebenaceae
Description: A small-sized tree seldom reaching a diameter of 40 cm; stem is seldom straight, fluted, short, attaining a height of 5 m; leaves are elliptic or obovate, often notched at the tip. Inflorescence is axillary, with 1-3 white or pale yellow flowers. Fruits turn from red orange to purple when mature.
Distribution: D. ferrea grows in most areas of Western Visayas or Region VII. It is naturally growing in the provinces of Eastern Samar particularly in Borongan, Guian and Catarman. The species was also sighted occurring in Inopacan, Leyte.
Uses: D. ferrea is planted as ornamental and as bonsai. The wood is used in the manufacturE of furniture, cabinet, inlaying eaves, tool handles, fingerboards and key of guitars and violins, drawing instrument, shuttles, bobbins, spindles and novelty products.
Habitat: The trees grows along rocky seashores and back of mangrove swamps and in some areas extending inland on dry slopes.
Phenology: In Guian, Eastern Samar, flowering starts in April, seed collection is from July to August. Propagation: Propagation is through seed.
Seed Germination: Soak seeds in tap water for 12 hours before sowing. Sow in any of the following media: (1) sand, (2) ordinary garden soil, and (3) 1:1 mixture of sand and ordinary garden soil.
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