Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BANTIGUE and other native trees as BONSAI.

Last Sunday, I was able to pass by the local plant shop in Quezon City. Among the assortment of plant choices, one stall that caught my interest was the area for bonsai. Not that I am a bonsai collector, but because I wanted to check out myself what native species were to be found in the collection. It is not my first time seeing bonsai specimen being sold so I am somewhat accustomed to the species or mediums, which were most popular in this kind of trade. I could distinguish some of the native Philippine tree species that were being sold as I walked my way through the display. Some were already manicured and meticulously shaped to perfection, while others were still bound to the wires that will transform them into masterpieces.

Bonsai masterpieces are very beautiful. One particular species that is evident in this stall or in any other bonsai store that I have visited over the years is the popular Bantigue (Pemphis acidula), which is much sought after due to it’s gnarly twisted branches, white to ash colored wood to give an aged look and the delicate foliage that is layered and tiered to give a statuesque and ancient look. It takes decades or even centuries for a mature specimen to reach a certain size and girth, plus several more years for a bonsai expert to masterfully transform a naturally growing tree into the miniature form that most plant enthusiast want to contain as if it was a pet.

Like most plants and trees, Bantigue and other bonsai specimen need special care and maintenance. I remember the time when a prominent bonsai expert from Pangasinan advised me that since Bantigue is naturally found growing along the coastal area, it needed the occasional salt spray to get optimal growth development that it desperately needs. Or instead, he would use a small amount of “bagoong” (fermented local fish or shrimp paste used as a condiment to accompany some Filipino dishes) to supplement the Bantigue essential nutrients that are also present in the sea.

Indeed, bonsai’s give us a different high upon seeing the creative product, but what most of us do not know is how they are obtained up to the final outcome that they are presented in their respective ceramic dish. Have you seen them in a state where the specimens were just freshly delivered and distributed to the bonsai trade or market? Majority of the specimens, mature and seedlings are indiscriminately collected and taken haphazardly from the wild. Can you imagine what the effect of this will be with regards to the wild populations of specific species not only of the Bantigue, but to all potential bonsai mediums? I can assume that most buyers don’t even know how to take care of these precious jewels. Certain know-how should be attained first before acquiring any kind of specimen. Otherwise, another plant or tree life will pay the cost due to negligence.


Post a Comment