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What Is The Most Expensive Bonsai Tree?

Bonsai trees can be expensive. 

Anyone who has attempted the art knows that’s true. 

But, have you ever wondered which bonsai tree is the most expensive?

Well, some sources say that the most expensive bonsai tree sold for 1.3 million dollars in 2011. 

Yet, others state that a juniper bonsai sold for around 2 million dollars in 1981. 

However, many other extremely expensive bonsai trees have fetched extraordinary prices worldwide.

This article will examine the most expensive bonsais ever sold as well as why certain trees sell for so much. 

What Is the Most Expensive Bonsai Tree?

Some sources state that the most expensive bonsai tree in history was the juniper bonsai, which sold in 1981 for around $2 million.

The common origin story of this tree states that someone first found it in a forest in Japan. 

The Kato family, which ran the Mansei-en Bonsai nursery, also supposedly owned this bonsai. 

However, there is some dispute about this tree and whether it actually sold for such an incredible price. 

Because of this debate, other sources say the most expensive bonsai tree ever sold fetched 1.3 million dollars.

It sold in 2011, and according to many official sources, it is the most expensive bonsai to have ever changed hands.

It was an old white pine bonsai with a stunning shape and form, so it isn’t surprising that it may have garnered the highest price ever seen by the bonsai world.

Both of those prices seem amazing for such small trees, but they both exhibit astounding beauty and artistry that you can’t find in other specimens. 

Other Expensive Bonsai Trees

There are a great many other expensive bonsai trees in the world, and although you can buy these trees commercially for as little as $20 in some places, most will cost significantly more. 

For instance, two bonsai trees may have reached the $1 million mark: a Yamaki pine and a Japanese black pine.

There was also a Chinese juniper sold, which sold for $750,000, while a five-needle pine sold for $600,000.

Another couple of junipers fetched $400,000 and $350,000, while a Japanese white pine totaled $160,000.

And, most bonsai trees can cost quite a bit even if you don’t go for the top end.

Even if you just buy a fairly standard bonsai online, you could be paying as much as $5,000, especially if the specimen is old, has an unusual shape, or has an interesting form. 

However, some bonsai varieties are consistently expensive. 

Some of these trees include:

  • The trident maple, which can sell for up to $15,000
  • The Eastern white pine can go for up to $1,200
  • The Hinoki cypress often fetches around $3,000
  • A flowering azalea can sometimes be as much as $2,500

Overall, though, costs can depend on your area and what other trees are available to you.

It’s also worth noting that most of the expensive bonsai trees come from Japan, although trading occurs worldwide.

Typically, you’ll find the most expensive trees at international conventions where growers price and display trees for collectors to consider. 

What Makes a Bonsai Expensive?

You might be astonished that a bonsai could cost so much money. 

But, there’s a reason that some of these trees command such extraordinary prices, and it is usually related to the tree’s age.

It takes a very long time for a bonsai to grow, and some of the trees on this list could be over a century old.

Thus, their age makes them completely unique and irreplaceable, increasing the value collectors place on them. 

So, old trees are usually more desirable.

Overall, centuries-old bonsais represent many decades of work and care because bonsai trees are high maintenance and require a lot of attention to thrive.

Most of the expensive trees are also unusual in terms of their shape and size. 

Further, they often contain some deadwood, which is hard to produce and extremely striking. 

The growers of these trees will also have crafted them to form an incredible shape and structure.

Other factors that affect the price include the container (which may be antique and worth a lot even without the tree) and the kind of bonsai, as some varieties are worth a lot more than others.


The most expensive bonsai in the world may have sold at over $2 million, but some official estimates claim the honor goes to a $1.3 million tree sold in 2011. 

Yet, several other ancient bonsai trees have fetched prices in the hundreds of thousands. 

And even the lower prices may be as much as $30,000 for particularly beautiful or striking trees.

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