How To Tell Which Bonsai Tree I Have?

To identifying your bonsai tree:

Examine the Foliage:

  • Leaf Shape: Note the size, shape, and arrangement of the leaves.
  • Leaf Texture: Feel for smoothness, roughness, or hairiness.
  • Leaf Color: Observe the color of the leaves and any unique markings.
  • Leaf Arrangement: See whether leaves grow in pairs, clusters, or alternate along the stems.

Inspect the Bark and Branches:

  • Bark Texture: Look for smoothness, roughness, flakiness, or unique patterns.
  • Branch Structure: Notice how the branches grow and whether they’re straight, twisted, or have distinctive shapes.

Consider Other Features:

  • Flowers or Fruits: If present, identify their shape, color, and fragrance.
  • Growth Habit: Observe whether the tree is upright, cascading, or has a particular shape.

Use Online Resources:

  • Bonsai Identification Guides: Consult websites or apps with images and descriptions of common bonsai species.
  • Bonsai Forums or Communities: Seek advice from experienced bonsai enthusiasts.

Consult a Bonsai Expert:

  • If you’re still unsure, reach out to a local bonsai nursery or club for expert identification.

Additional Tips:

  • Take Clear Photos: Capture close-ups of leaves, bark, flowers, and overall tree shape to aid identification.
  • Note the Season: Some species have distinctive features more noticeable during certain seasons.
  • Provide Background Information: If you have details about where the tree was purchased or its care history, share them with experts for more accurate identification.

Examine Physical Form

Study main branches’ angles, levels of twisting along trunks, relative proportions comparing height to girth, presence of aerial roots, etc.

Examine Physical Form of Bonsai Tree

Compare observed attributes like:

  • Branch positioning – Horizontal, upwardly arched, pendulous, irregular
  • Bark texture – Peeling strips, lichens, smooth beech-like, knobbly shards
  • Leaf shapes and sizes – Ovals, needle-thin, heart-shaped, rounded evergreen

These visible structural markers offer initial clues towards groups like conifers vs deciduous vs flowering varieties when researching specifics. Documenting through drawings or images helps greatly during online searches.

Track Seasonal Changes

Track Seasonal Changes of Bonsai Tree

Beyond static physical construction, noting foliage transformations across seasons also aids identification.

Mark calenders for:

  • Spring leaf emergence, flowering or fruiting dates
  • Intense autumn fall color development
  • Duration trees remain bare in winter
  • Preferred lighting conditions

Combining understood aesthetic features with photos from multiple seasons generates robust distinguishable profiles. Appreciate unpredictability as part of narrowing ID.

Consult Regional Origin Lore

Researching a specific tree’s native climate niche and cultural lore also provides hints towards ancient bonsai tree types passed along for generations. Study legends, historical usages in art, and customs related to your variety in Asian texts. Cross-reference this rich context with biological needs and modern care guidelines.

For example, juniper remains interwoven with rituals for purification and protection in both Shinto and Buddhist traditions, reflected in winter hardiness. Such meaningful backstories accompany venerable species.

While precise botanical names prove elusive at times even for experts, attentiveness to physical attributes, seasonal changes, and intangible essence through researched lore all combine to identify bonsai trees. This allows your collection’s care to become more personalized over time.


Identifying the specific type of bonsai tree you have can be done by closely observing the characteristics of its leaves, bark, and overall shape.

By comparing these features with available resources and seeking guidance from bonsai experts, you can determine the species or style of your bonsai tree. Remember to be patient and thorough during the identification process to ensure accuracy.


What if my tree has no flowers or fruit to aid ID?

Focus instead on bark, leaf shapes, branch patterns, and climate needs.

Should I seek lab testing to verify tree genetics?

Not required. Document visible features across seasons first.

Can I successfully care for an unknown species of bonsai?

 Yes, provide versatile conditions and observe responses. ID precision develops later.