BONSAI is a term given to an ORNAMENTAL TREE or shrub grown in a pot and artificially prevented from reaching its normal size or the art of growing trees or shrubs in such a way. Terrestrial plants are popular for Bonsai cultivation but did you know that a coastal plant species is used for Bonsai cultivation?
PEMPHIS ACIDULA (SHRUBBY CORAL PEMPHIS) is a mangrove plant, a tree or shrub that GROWS IN MUDDY, chiefly TROPICAL COASTAL SWAMPS IS CALLED A MANGROVE. That is in demand for Bonsai culture. In India, Pemphis is reported to be endemic (Prevalent in or peculiar to a particular locality/ native to or confined to a certain region) to the Gulf of Mannar region though contradicting reports of its presence along the eastern coasts is also available.
PEMPHIS ACIDULA (SHRUBBY CORAL PEMPHIS) is tropical and sub-tropical in distribution. It is also called as a DIGGING STICK TREE. In South Asia, this species is found in Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, and Thailand. Not many details are available for India except for the documentation of the species in the Gulf of Mannar region.
The digging stick tree is a TYPICAL SPRAWLING mangrove species and can grow as a densely branched evergreen shrub or small tree. THE LEAVES ARE SUCCULENT TYPE (Succulent plants, also known as succulents or fat plants, are water-retaining plants adapted to arid climate or soil conditions), pointed greyish- green and are arranged opposite to each other on thick woody branches. FLATTENED HAIRS are found all over the leaves.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT PEMPHIS ACIDULA (SHRUBBY CORAL PEMPHIS)
PEMPHIS ACIDULA (SHRUBBY CORAL PEMPHIS) is an EVERGREEN SHRUB or DENSELY BRANCHING SMALL TREE USUALLY GROWING FROM 0.6 – 8 metres tall, occasionally up to 11 metres. The BOLE IS USUALLY GNARLED AND MUCH BRANCHED. Occasionally the plant is A DWARF CREEPING SHRUBLET only 15 cm high. The tree is SOMETIMES HARVESTED FROM THE WILD FOR LOCAL USE AS A FOOD, MEDICINE AND SOURCE OF TIMBER. THE WOOD is POTENTIALLY OF VERY GOOD QUALITY, but because of its small size and the poor form of the bole, as well as its limited supply, the wood is only used on a small and local scale. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental, there is a significant trade in seeds and live plants, especially in Asia, for growing it as a bonsai. This is a common species in certain areas, and it is widespread. In the Pacific Islands, the population is considered stable. However, this species has experienced population declines in some regions due to habitat loss and the collection for use in the bonsai trade. The plant is classified as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)
OTHER INFORMATIONS ABOUT PEMPHIS ACIDULA (SHRUBBY CORAL PEMPHIS)
- The tree is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of timber. The wood is potentially of very good quality, but because of its small size and the poor form of the bole, as well as its limited supply, the wood is only used on a small and local scale.
- Shrubby Coral Pemphis is sometimes grown as an ornamental. There is a significant trade in seeds and live plants, especially in Asia, for growing it as a bonsai.
- This plant grows on a variety of soil including coastal fine sand, coastal limestone rock, cliffs, coral conglomerate, limestone bedrock outcrops of atolls etc. It is able to grow in places where seawater wet its roots regularly during the high tide.
- It is propagated by seeds, wildlings and roots suckers. Seeds are not directly sown in the field. Nursery-raised seedlings are used for outplanting. Mature fruits can be easily identified by their brown color and each fruit contains 20 to 30 very small seeds which can be collected by gently pressing the matured fruits.
- Pemphis is a mangrove plant, a typical sprawling mangrove species and can grow as a densely branched evergreen shrub or small tree. The leaves are succulent, pointed greyish-green, narrowly elliptic or lanceshaped, and are arranged opposite to each other on thick woody branches. Flattened hairs are found all over the leaves. Flowers of Pemphis are small and cup-shaped having colours of white or pale pink. The flowers are usually found to bloom throughout the year. Fruits are small, reddish in colour containing around 20 seeds. The seeds burst open after ripening and are transported by wind and water and settle down. If favourable conditions are available, the seed germinates and sprout into a small plant. Pemphis is mangrove found in SE Asia and other places. In India it is predominant in Lakshadweep.