Bonsai tree: You Can Look But You Better Not Touch

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bonsai tree: You Can Look But You Better Not Touch

This sweet to look at, but otherwise nasty little bonsai is from Yorozu Shohin Bonsai Nursery in Japan. It caught my wary eye recently on a post by John Romano on Bonsai Study Group Forum. I’m going to assume that it’s an Asian Poison ivy (see text below).

One genus, several species

What follows is for those of us who get excited when we see Latin names. If you don’t fall into that unique subset of above average humans, you can skip this part and just enjoy the photos.

The genus is Toxicodendron (previously Rhus). I don’t know how many species there are worldwide in this foul grouping, but for our purposes, there are at least three (well, maybe four) worth mentioning. The first is our east coast Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). Nick Lenz’s little gem below is a pretty good example this noxious menace. The second is our west coast Poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) and the third is the Asian Poison ivy (Toxicodendron orientale), which according to Wikipedia is so similar to our Poison ivy that some texts treat it as just a variety of the American species. The forth, Atlantic Poison oak (Toxicodendron pubescens) comes as a surprise to me. Apparently this little thug makes its home mostly in our Old Confederacy (that’s down south for those of you who failed American History – but then you wouldn’t be reading this far anyway).

This one is from Nick Lenz’ masterful Bonsai from the Wild. It’s an East Coast Poison Ivy. Judging by the leaves and bark, it’s doesn’t appear to be the same species as the one above. Still, according to Wikipedia (see text above) it’s very close.

Source: Bonsai Bark


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