Bunjingi style, or literati Bonsai has long slender trunks – sometimes contorted and twisted – with the bare minimum of branches. This style of Bonsai mimics trees that have struggled in the wild against severe weather and the elements, or competition with other trees closeby. The reduced number of branches and leaf pads, predominantly towards the apex of the tree, gives the impression of old age and that weathered look.
Bunjingi Bonsai allow us to be truly creative. In fact there really are no limitations to the composition you can achieve. Wild trees, trees from Bonsai stockists and trees acquired from garden centres can all be used to great effect quite easily because the only main feature you need initially is the extended trunk. From there you can keep the trunk straight, or use bending equipment to twist it.
The hardest part of creating a quality Bunjingi or literati-style Bonsai is the branch placement. As there are so few branches upon a true literati-style Bonsai, they have to be near perfect for the composition to work correctly. In fact, literati Bonsai really tests the grower’s ability to form good branch structures to the limit – more than any other style.
And on the subject of branch structure and leaf pads – the best literati style Bonsai are evergreens, predominantly conifers. They look great throughout the year, plus the very compact leaf structure helps achieve the right balance between long and slender trunk, short branches and the leaf pads themselves.
Ideal species for creating Bunjingi or literati-style Bonsai:
Although this style can be achieved well using deciduous trees, conifers are the staple diet of literati enthusiasts:
- Japanese White Pine (Pinus)
- Japanese Black Pine (Pinus)
- Bald Cypress (Taxodium)
- Ponderosa Pine (Pinus)
- Juniper (Juniperus)
- Red Pine (Pinus)
- Spruce (Picea)
- Beech (Fagus)
- Ficus (Ficus)