Japanese yew

text and photos by Alfredo Salaccione


This Japanese yew (taxus cuspidata) arrived in Italy with other garden trees. Some problems to the roots resulted in the loss of many branches. So it was saved like prebonsai material. I washed all the old soil from the roots and I repotted it in a smaller pot. I used a mix of akadama and pumice stone. This mixture is very good and helps to develop new and strong roots.

After one year, the yew is in good health. The problem with the roots is over and now I can work on the foliage.


I start to work the dead part. Yew's wood is very hard and compact, so it needs many hours of work.

This is only the first step on the dead wood. In the future it will be reduced more.

I start the preparation with raffia and copper wire on the principal branch. I put an iron bar in position, which will help me to bend the branch.

During the bending, it is very important to spray water on the foliage to reduce the stress for the tree. In my opinion, it's better to do this kind of work during autumn or winter, when the lymph is less fluid.

The work goes on. It is important to put the copper wire without pushing the foliage of the little branches, so as to have a clean and nice work.

A change of inclination and I choose the front. In this way, I start to put the first brench in the right position.


The structure comes out. The yew is ideal material to make bonsai. It is very generous and strong. So it's possible to have good results in a relatively short time. Moreover, it features small sized foliage with a nice green colour.

The first step of the work is done.

The trip from garden tree to bonsai has just started.

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