Esprit Bonsai International – August 2019

(Nancy Kaufman) #1
34 - EspritBonsaiInternational #101

of a Species

Cultivation details
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Juniperus
Species: Juniperus phoenicea
Soil: well-draining soil with
10% of fibrous peat.
Exposure: no direct sunlight in summer.
Watering: generous; this species likes
to be kept damp in summer.

Phoenicean junipers can boast wonderful forms and deadwood.
This Mediterranean species is starting to work its way into collections.

On the limestone cliffs of the Corbières
mountain range, Phoenicean juniper is often
the only species able to take up residence.


unipers are among the most
popular evergreens used to
create bonsai. Phoenicean
juniper is one of the species availa-
ble in France, where Thierry Font was
a trailblazer in making it into bonsai.
It is still a rare sight in collections,
but merits a closer look, particular-
ly because of the unequalled quality
and hardness of its wood, according
to the Japanese masters who have
encountered it.

In France’s Corbières
Phoenicean juniper (Juniperus
phoenicea) is also known by the name
arâr. It is most often bushy in form,
but in the right conditions the shrub
can take on the appearance of a tree
and reach 8 metres (26 feet) in height.



Author: Jean-François Busquet

This juniper grows all around the
Mediterranean basin: in North Africa
and as far as the Canary Islands, its
northern limit being the southern end
of France’s Massif Central. Liking poor
soils with a moderately basic pH, it has
made itself at home in the calcareous
mountains and plateaus of southern
France. In the extreme south, it is often
the only species able to colonise areas
where the impact of climatic condi-
tions on stony, unforgiving terrain is
considerable. Unlike the classic spe-
cies which is sensitive to sea spray, a
maritime species, J.  phoenicea sub-
species turbinata, is oblivious to it, and
specimens of the latter grace rocky
coastlines, notably in Sicily.
Phoenicean juniper is monoecious,
with no sexual differentiation, unlike
other junipers which are dioecious.

A Mediterranean species

that grows in extreme

locations and conditions,

the Phoenicean juniper

produces amazing shapes and

deadwood. It is a material of

choice for bonsai.



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