Rare in its native Japan, five compact Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Chabo-hiba’) are centerpieces of the collection. Hiba is the common name for the arborvitae-like conifer that is endemic to Japan, Thujopsis dolobrata. The word literally means “hatchet-shaped” and refers to the scale-like foliage of the plant. The word chabo means bantam or dwarf chicken, and when combined with hiba is translated to mean “compact or dwarf cypress.”
In much of Japan and milder parts of the United States, bonsai can be left outdoors all winter with only minimal protection from the elements. In New England’s more severe climate, however, plants in containers need to be protected during the cold months.
Arboretum bonsai are stored indoors in the dark at a temperature between 33 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit, and the plants are checked for water once a week. The key to successful winter storage is to make sure that the plants are fully dormant before they go in and that they come out before they show any signs of growth.
The Arnold Arboretum Bonsai & Penjing collection began with the donation of the Larz Anderson Collection of Japanese Dwarfed Trees in 1937, and has grown over time with additional specimens donated by a number of private collectors. Today, the collection comprises 36 masterfully curated trees representing a range of evergreen and deciduous species, including compact Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Chabo-hiba’), Japanese white pine (Pinus parviflora), trident maple (Acer buergerianum var. trinerve), Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), and cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia).
The Larz Anderson Collection of Japanese Dwarfed Trees at the Arnold Arboretum was originally imported into the United States by the Honorable Larz Anderson in 1913, upon his return from serving as ambassador to Japan. In April 1937, Isabel Anderson donated the majority of her late husband’s bonsai collection (30 plants) to the Arnold Arboretum, along with the funds necessary to build a shade house for their display. The rest of the Anderson bonsai came to the Arboretum following Isabel’s death in 1949.
The core of the collection consists of 5 large specimens of compact hinoki cypress—each between 150 and 275 years old—that Anderson purchased from the Yokohama Nursery Company. Additional bonsai have been acquired or added to the collection overtime.
- Find directions and accessibility information for this collection
- Read about the procedures used by the staff of the Arnold Arboretum to maintain the health of the Bonsai & Penjing Collection
- Watch a video about where bonsai and penjing are stored over winter
- Read a special Bonsai-themed issue of Arnoldia
- Read about the history of this collection
Plants in this Collection
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