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What Is the Oldest Bonsai Tree? (OVER 1,000 Years Old)

With proper care, bonsai trees can live for around 80 years.

But there are outstanding examples that families have passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years.

The oldest bonsai tree in the world is the remarkable ficus bonsai tree exhibited at the Crespi Bonsai Museum in Milan, Italy.

The estimated age of the long-liver is over 1,000 years.

Yet, there are also plenty of other bonsais that have been around for centuries. 

In this article, we’ll look at the oldest bonsai trees in the world. 

What Is the Oldest Bonsai Tree?

A 10-foot-tall (3 m) ficus tree with a dense network of aerial roots and a stunning silhouette – this is what the oldest bonsai tree in the world looks like.

The Crespi Bonsai Museum became home to the living legend back in 1986.

So, if you want to see this thousand-year-old beauty, you would have to buy a ticket to Milan, Italy.

As the first permanent bonsai museum on our planet, Crespi Bonsai Museum features plenty of fabulous samples seated on wood and stone tables.

But, the millennial ficus retusa linn is, as the world’s oldest bonsai, the museum’s main attraction.

This 1,000-year-old bonsai stands at the center of a beautiful pagoda between two 19th-century Chinese temple dogs.

And while you’re in the beautiful arboretum, you should also take a moment to appreciate the pot that houses this amazing specimen.

This single-piece world’s largest bonsai pot is truly one of a kind, just like the miraculous tree that it houses.

6 More Old Bonsais

Even though the Crespi Ficus is the oldest bonsai tree in the world, there are some other extraordinary long-livers that certainly deserve your attention.

1. The Bonsai Tree That Survived Hiroshima

This Japanese white pine is now nearly 400 years old. 

But the fact that the tree survived until today is truly a miracle.

This bonsai tree used to grow extremely close to Hiroshima, where the United States dropped an atomic bomb in 1945.

Thirty years later, the tree was gifted to the US, but, at that time, the Americans didn’t know about the bonsai’s connection to Hiroshima.

Only in 2001, when the grandchildren of the bonsai’s master came to the US looking for the tree, did they share the story with workers at the US National Arboretum, where the tree now lives.

That’s how the world came to understand the significance of this bonsai. 

Also, when you look at this tree, you’ll notice that it is actually quite short for its extreme age. 

It’s pretty crooked and has plenty of wrinkles too. 

But, perhaps, this is precisely how the reminder of the power of peace should appear.

2. The Pine of the Phoenix

To see one of the world’s oldest and tallest bonsai trees, you would have to visit the Akao Herb and Rose Garden in Japan.

The gorgeous pine is 600 years old, 30 feet (9 m) wide, and 16 feet (5 m) tall, which is a remarkable size for a bonsai tree.

And yes, the giant is in a pot, so it looks like the miniature representations of nature (which bonsai trees are) don’t have to be that miniature after all.

3. The Most Expensive Bonsai

Bonsai trees can get quite expensive, and, naturally, the older the plant, the higher the price.

So, when the International Bonsai Convention sold an 800-year-old pine in Japan, it went for a staggering 1.3 million dollars.

Of course, this pine was gigantic with spectacular roots, but the main feature that contributed to the price tag was the tree’s age.

S-Cube, a bonsai organization headed by Seiji Morimae, presented the tree.

4. The Third-Generation Tokugawa’s Pine

Sandai-Shōgun-no-Matsu is a tree in the prestigious National Treasures collection in Japan.

All the way back in 1610, someone planted the five-leafed pine, making it one of the oldest bonsai trees.

Then, its owners passed it down from emperor to emperor.

Today, you can find the royal tree in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo

5. 1,000-Year-Old Juniper Bonsai Tree

Omiya Bonsai Village in Japan is home to six fantastic bonsai gardens.

And it’s there that you will find the impressive 700-year-old shimpaku juniper tree.

But the crown jewel of the gardens is, perhaps, the 1,000-year-old juniper bonsai tree that someone collected from the wilds a millennium ago.

The Kato family has owned the village since the 19th century, and it is definitely a must-visit place for all the bonsai enthusiasts out there.

6. Harvard University’s Bonsai Trees

These might not be the most senior bonsai trees in the world, but we had to include the oldest still living trees in the United States.

The six Chabo-hiba cypresses are part of an extensive collection of Japanese dwarfed trees presented in the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University.

Larz Anderson, the person who brought the collection together, served as an ambassador in Japan.

In 1913, he brought home an extensive collection of mind-blowingly beautiful bonsai trees.

The cypresses are the main stars of the collection, with the oldest one being about 275 years old.


It’s amazing that bonsais can live for centuries, but when they make it to that 1,000 mark, they are truly special. 

However, it is not always age that makes a bonsai tree great. 

Sometimes, the story behind the tree can be just as interesting.

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