What does a bonsai tree represent?

As you already know, bonsai isn’t a specific type of tree. It’s an art of growing trees, where the trees stay miniature even after aging. However, it’s not just about keeping the tree in a pot with a mature appearance; every single bonsai has a significant meaning to it.

The reason many people opt for growing bonsai is also for decorative purposes. All the symbolism of different bonsai trees holds excellent value in Japanese culture especially. So, here I will discuss in-depth what does a bonsai tree represents.

Let’s get going with it.

What does a bonsai tree represent

Common symbolisms from Bonsai trees 

Different types of bonsai trees bear different meanings to them. These trees mostly signify the spiritual value of this world.

Every part of the tree has significance in Japanese culture. Even some values go on to growing a bonsai. Let’s take a look at what these things represent.  


The maintenance activity of pruning a bonsai tree symbolizes keeping balance in life. To keep the bonsai in its proper shape, you have to prune it. This maintains balance in the growth of the tree.

Also, when you prune a bonsai, it’s typically done in an isosceles triangle shape. It is considered to have an imperfect symmetry which feels more natural. This shows the balance that something can be imperfect and yet be so beautiful.


With different kinds of bonsai trees, you can get a taste of diverse landscapes. They sometimes create the image of scenery from a place that already exists. Now, what you perceive seeing that tree is entirely subjective.

You may think of a particular place seeing a bonsai tree, while someone else will have another image. Also, some bonsai trees come with a specific theme that holds the value of a specific place, and everyone can see it the same way.


A great thing about the bonsai tree is that it’s nothing fancy. Just by looking at it, you get the essence of simplicity. Bonsai trees emit the symbol of simplicity.

Everything is just simple, whether it’s the tree or the pot you are using for the tree. There is no ornamentation or augmentation in them. It’s a tree in a pot with twisted branches and leaves.


While many people may not be aware of this, but bonsai trees can symbolize human life stages. Every single part of the tree shows you different parts of a life stage.

When you see exposed roots on your bonsai, it represents the old age of life. For the circular trunks, it signifies a tree that has overcome different natural elements. With a smooth trunk, you get the symbol of innocence people have in their youth.

Lastly, with the dead trunk being on the side of a tree, it shows the rebirth of something with evolution coming along with it.  


The best message a bonsai delivers is living in harmony with the different aspects of life. A bonsai will have both younger parts and older parts in the same tree. Also, there will be quite sharp parts, and then there will be parts that are just smooth.

How you want to recreate that in your bonsai is up to you. It’s up to the artist to create the image they see in their world. Being able to portray harmony through a tree is what makes the bonsai so unique and spiritual.

These are the common symbolism you get to see in bonsai trees. Aside from these, particular trees have a specific symbol to deliver out there. So, let’s take a look at some of the popular bonsai trees and what they represent.

Symbolism different bonsai trees represent 

You can go on and on about this since there are so many bonsai trees out there. Every single one of them has a message. What I am going through here are some of the most popular bonsai trees people usually grow.

All these trees have significant symbolism that makes them quite special. Let’s check them out one by one.

Ficus bonsai 

This is one of the most common bonsai due to the lifespan and quick growth it has. Also, it’s a comparatively low-maintenance bonsai tree. People consider it to be the symbol of simplicity, harmony, and new beginnings.

It’s believed that having a Ficus bonsai in your home spreads positivity and builds understanding in the house. Often Ficus makes up to be the “cheerful tree” as it can lighten people’s mood.

Jade bonsai 

Jade is another popular tree grown as a bonsai. It has a lot of meaning to it. It’s believed that Jade bonsai can bring good luck and money in life. For this, many people call it the money tree or money plant.

Aside from that, it also signifies good friendship with others. The green leaves on the tree are very vibrant, which holds the meaning of energy, renewal, and growth. It’s a great bonsai for beginners for its easy maintenance. And the best part is that you can grow it indoors.

Juniper bonsai 

In terms of beauty, Juniper is a great bonsai tree to have in your home. It brings out the true value of a bonsai when you look at it. This tree usually symbolizes protection. A lot of people believe that Juniper bonsai can fend away evil spirits.

Also, it holds some health and healing values with the berry-like cone you get from the tree. The tree has a cleansing and purifying aura for people who are near the tree. Some people consider Juniper to be the symbol of strength. It emits the belief that you can overcome any challenge in life.

Azalea bonsai 

Straight up, this is one of the prettiest bonsai plants you can have in your home. The tree symbolizes femininity with its bright blossoms. It’s the representation of beauty, kindness, and openness.

Also, it’s considered a symbol of love, which makes it an excellent gift for loved ones. With the cloudlike bright colored flowers, you can add a different beauty to your house with this tree.

Cherry blossom bonsai 

The cherry blossom is a lovely flower, and it’s the national flower from Japan. Because of this reason, it holds a great value in Japanese culture. This tree represents explicitly the dominance, beauty, and strength of females.

A lot of monks believe cherry blossom to be the symbol of mortality. It shows the fact that time is passing through its short time bloom. While the duration is short, the tree blooms beautifully, reminding you of living in the present to the fullest. It’s also a representation of renewal.

The Chinese Elm 

This is a tree that symbolizes harmony like nothing else. It’s the representation of inner strength, intuition, and wisdom as well. All these things coming together in one place is the significance of this tree.

It’s also a symbol of love. The kind of love that is peaceful and calm to be around. You also get the essence of balance from this tree. Many people also consider the tree to be a good omen for their household.

Japanese maple 

It’s one of the brightest colorful bonsai trees you will ever get to witness in your life. The bright red or yellow foliage is something you can never turn your eyes away from. With its bright color, it symbolizes beauty over anything else. And the beauty of this one is mostly focused on elegance rather than subtlety.

A lot of people consider this one to be a representation of peace as well. It revitalizes the balance and practicality of the world through serenity. When you take a look at this tree, all you can see is its beauty and be in peace.

Oak bonsai 

Oak is a popular tree throughout the world. While it usually symbolizes strength and health, it also represents the value of knowledge. The reason is that different cultures link Oak trees to Gods, and they consider it to be a spiritual wisdom house.

The oak bonsai will typically have a strong trunk which signifies strength and power. Also, they have great longevity, which makes them a signature for eternal life. Even with constant pruning, you can’t damage the tree in any way, which is why they are great for bonsai.

Aside from these, any tree you come across holds meaning to it. Also, different cultures symbolize these trees in different ways. So, no matter whichever tree you are getting, just dig a little deep before getting them to know about the true values of the tree.


To sum up, bonsai trees have a lot of meaning to them, aside from their beauty. They have a spiritual value in many cultures, especially in Japanese culture; they are considered pure.

While these may be just thoughts and beliefs, they do deliver strong sentiments. This is why growing a bonsai tree is always such a rewarding thing to do. And no matter what kind of tree you have, it’s always very calming to witness their existence around you.

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