10 Best Pine Species for Bonsai Trees

Pine Tree
Pine is the name of the conifer tree genus of the Pinaceae family, most of whose members grow like trees and shrubs in the mountains with a long life. There are 126 identified pine species, and another 35 are still in the process of being named or researched by the Missouri Botanical Garden and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Under species, there are still many recognized and registered varieties and cultivars of pine.

An evergreen pine tree growing 3-80 meters tall, with the majority of species reaching 15-45 meters in height. The smallest species are in Siberia, namely Pinyon Pines and Potosi Pinyon, while the highest is Ponderosa Pine in the southern Oregon Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, with a height of 81.79 meters.

The distinctive feature of the pine tree is its needle-like leaves and thick, cracking, and rough bark. But some species have thin and smooth bark. Pine trees also have good quality wood and are commonly used for construction almost all over the world.

Well, apart from its benefits as a tree that produces sap and wood, pine has also been chosen as an object of bonsai since ancient times, especially in Japan. The ancient Japanese people searched for and brought home pine trees from above the mountains (which have certain criteria) and planted them in shallow pots. The search for and harvesting of pine trees in the mountains is called ‘Yamadori’ and is still being carried out today.

Not all species of pines can be selected as bonsai objects, bonsai artists only have low growing pines, growing defects with twisted or damaged trunks, and unique shapes. Trees with these criteria are then taken and brought home to be planted and trimmed to be trained into beautiful bonsai.

If you want to find out which species of pines are widely used as bonsai trees, you are on the right page because here Names of Tress will recommend you the 10 pines that are most widely used as bonsai. Here’s the list:




1. Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii)

Pinus thunbergii Bonsai
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Japanese Black Pine or Black Pine is an East Asian pine native to the coastal areas of Japan and South Korea. The tree is called kuromatsu in Japanese, hēisōng in Chinese, and gomsol in Korean.

This species of Japanese black pine is of the highest value in bonsai aesthetics.


2. Japanese White Pine (Pinus parviflora)

Pinus parviflora Bonsai
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Japanese White Pine, or more commonly known as the Five-needle pine, is a species of pine in the white pine group, native to Korea and Japan.

It is a tree that is popular as an object other than Japanese black pine and is also grown as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens. The cultivars ‘Adcock’s Dwarf’ and ‘Bonnie Bergman’ have earned the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.


3. Japanese Red Pine (Pinus densiflora)

Pinus densiflora Bonsai
Source: kyriolexy.wordpress.com

The Japanese Red Pine or Korean Red Pine is a tree native to Japan, the Korean Peninsula, northeast China, and the southeastern tip of Russia. In winter, these pine leaves turn yellow or brown. The tree likes full sun in well-draining soil that is also slightly acidic.

In Japan, this tree is known as akamatsu and mematsu. The tree is cultivated widely in Japan both for timber production and as an ornamental tree. Japanese Red Pine plays an important role in classical Japanese garden as well as bonsai.


4. Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo)

Pinus mugo Bonsai
Source: fotocommunity.de

Mugo Pine or Creeping Pine is a conifer species native to the highlands from southwest to Central and Southeastern Europe. This tree is known by many names such as Bog pine, Dwarf mountain pine, Mountain pine, Creeping pine, Mugo pine, Scrub mountain pine, and Swiss mountain pine.

The mugo pine is cultivated as an ornamental tree or a potted tree. It is also used in Japanese garden-style landscapes, and especially for bonsai specimens.

Many cultivars have been selected. The cultivars ‘Humpy’, ‘Kissen’, ‘Mops’, and ‘Ophir’ have been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.


5. Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Pinus sylvestris Bonsai
Source: bonsaimotorworld.wordpress.com

Scots pine or Scotch pine is a species of a pine tree in the Pinaceae family that originates from Eurasia, from Western Europe to Eastern Siberia, south to the Caucasus Mountains and Anatolia, and north into the Arctic Circle in Fennoscandia. This tree is found mostly on poorer, sandy soils, rocky outcrops, peat swamps, or close to forest boundaries.

Pinus sylvestris is the only pine native to northern Europe, forming unspoiled forest or mixed with Norwegian spruce, Silver birch, European rowan, Eurasian aspen, and other hardwood tree species.

Several cultivars of Pinus sylvestris are cultivated for ornamental trees in parks and gardens, including ‘Aurea’, ‘Beuvronensis’, ‘Frensham’, and ‘Gold Coin’ which have received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.


6. Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis)

Pinus flexilis Bonsai
Source: pacificbonsaimuseum.org

Limber Pine or Rocky Mountain White Pine is a species of white pine tree that grows naturally in the mountains of the Western United States, Mexico, and Canada. This tree generally inhabits the highlands in steep places and grows between rocks.


7. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

Pinus strobus Bonsai
Source: bonsaivl.wordpress.com

Eastern White Pine or Weymouth Pine is a pine tree native to eastern North America. Native American Haudenosaunee named it the “Tree of Peace”.

It is known as the Weymouth pine in Great Britain, after Captain George Weymouth of the British Royal Navy, who brought its seeds to England from Maine in 1605.

Eastern White Pine is cultivated for ornamental plant trees and live Christmas trees. This species is easy to maintain and fast-growing. Several cultivars are used in bonsai such as Pinus strobus ‘Nana’ which only grows to less than 150 cm.


8. Chinese White Pine (Pinus armandii)

Pinus armandii Bonsai
Source: valavanisbonsaiblog.com

Chinese White Pine or Armand Pine is a pine species native to China, ranging from southwest Shanxi to south Gansu and south to Yunnan, with a remote population in Anhui. It extends to Taiwan at an altitude of 2,000-3,000 m above sea level and also northern Burma.

The Chinese White Pine is also grown as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens in Europe and North America.


9. Blackjack Pine (Pinus ponderosa)

Pinus ponderosa Bonsai
Source: bonsaimirai.com

Blackjack Pine or Ponderosa Pine is a very large species of a pine tree with variable habitat native to the mountainous regions of western North America. It is the pine species most widely distributed in North America.

Like most western pines, Blackjack Pine is generally associated with mountainous topography. In New Zealand, ponderosa pines are considered “wild pines” because they have taken over the land area and prevented native plant species from growing there.


10. Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta)

Pinus contorta Bonsai
Source: bonsaimirai.com

Lodgepole Pine or Twisted Pine is a common tree in western North America. This tree grows naturally near seashores and dry to subalpine mountain forests, but is rarely found in lowland rainforests.

Lodgepole Pine can grow into a shrub (1-3 meters) or medium-sized trees (45-50 meters) with a trunk diameter of up to 2 meters.

Lodgepole pine tree is widely planted in Norway, Sweden, Ireland, and the UK for reforestation or plantation and harvested its wood. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, lodgepole pine is registered with the National Pest Plant Accord and is prohibited from being sold, reproduced commercially, and distributed.

The ten pine species above are very well known and commonly used as bonsai objects throughout the world. Perhaps, if you want to buy the tree, your local nursery will have one.


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