Over the years, this post discussing differences among Itoigawa, Kishu, and Shimpaku junipers has consistently one of the highest-viewed of the nearly 350 posts over the 5-year history of the blog. Kishu and Shimpaku are tricky to tell apart by their foliage, so here is a refresher…
Kishu left, Shimpaku right.
Kishu is plumper in texture, tighter in growth pattern, and brighter green in color.
Shimpaku is slightly thinner in texture, “ropier” growth pattern, and paler green in color.
I have been studying bonsai since 1994, in an ever-increasing obsessive fashion. In our last 5 years prior to moving from Iowa to Alabama pursuing a career in the foodservice industry, my bonsai collection was limited to a few varieties that could survive brutal winters outside, or winters under dim light in the dank basement of our humble duplex...my wife puts up with a lot. Including the trailer hitch I put on our brown 1983 Chrysler New Yorker to pull a U-Haul full of trees to Nashville for a 3-month stop along the career path that led us to Alabama. 12 years later, we no longer have the New Yorker; and not a single one of those trees remain on my bench, having given the last holdout to a new club member this summer. I prefer collecting native trees and buying the classical species used in Japan, feeding organic, and reading everything I can get my hands on.
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2 thoughts on “Kishu or Shimpaku?”
Reblogged this on Wolf's Birding and Bonsai Blog.
Shimpaku is a cover all term for all chinensis varieties in Japan. Essentially meaning ‘juniper’. Both kishu and itoigawa as well as all the other varieties get called shimpaku. For example you might get told to grab ‘that shimpaku’ which happens to be an itoigawa variety.