An Imposing Premna Microphylla
 By Jerry Meislik


Premna microphylla is an extremely popular bonsai material used throught much of Southeast Asai. On my recent trip, I saw it growing wild on the beaches of eastern Taiwan. Its natural growth pattern is to form a large tree with leaves 6-8 inches in length but these reduce greatly with proper bonsai care.

Leaves vary from 1/2 inch to over 5 inches in length.

It has a brown-grey, fissured and very attractive bark.

Detail showing bark.

The flowers are small, white and arrayed in a cluster.

Premna flower cluster.


Premna is used to create tiny to huge bonsai. The tree that is being trained in this article was the base of a very large tree that was cut down for timber.

The tree's front.

Later the stump resprouted, its bonsai potential was recognized and it was collected and placed into a container to become a large sized bonsai.

Back view of the tree.

The bonsai's owner Mr. Ho has entrusted this tree to Master Chiu-Chang Chiang to undertake its transformation from collected tree to bonsai. Although its design is not quite completed, the majesty of this bonsai will place it among the top Premna in the world.

Initially, the tree was found oriented into the ground as shown by the black line.

Black line shows original growing orientation.

It was tipped up on its side and the living strips were trained in a new direction. The tree's original position was changed almost 90 degrees by tilting the root base vertical and the bonsai was designed in that orientation.

Side view, showing hollow trunk.


Several weeks prior to this photo session, Master Chiang perfomed a number of free grafts to fill in bare areas. During this training sesssion the tree was trimmed and then wired to shape by Master Chiang.

Master Chiang trimming back and shaping the foliage.


This process will be repeated many times over the ensuing years to produce a detailed and well-ramified bonsai.

Completed tree.


The dead wood of this old tree is quite firm and rot resistant. The residual dead wood will be cleaned and perhaps refined in the future.

Mr. Ho and Master Chiang on the right.


Further progress on this masterpiece will be documented with photos.

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