10 Oldest Bonsai Tree In The World ( #6 Is The Tallest)

Oldest Bonsai Tree

Bonsai trees, due to the miniaturization process, tend to live a lot longer than regular trees, regardless if they are kept indoors or outdoors. It’s not uncommon then to find bonsai trees that are upwards of 500 years old. So what exactly is the oldest bonsai tree in existence? 

The oldest bonsai tree in existence is a Ficus bonsai kept in Crespi, Italy that is believed to be over 1000 years old. This tree is the signature tree at the Crespi Bonsai Museum where it is kept. 

So what other bonsai trees are amongst the oldest in existence? And how do you make your bonsai tree live longer? Keep reading to find out more!

Just a quick heads up, over the past three years of running Plantpaladin, hundreds of people have asked for product recommendations. As such, You can find my favorite indoor bonsai tree here (link takes you to Bonsaiboy), my favorite outdoor bonsai tree (link takes you to Bonsaiboy), or have a look at all the products I recommend here

1) 1000-Year-old Ficus bonsai (Crepi, Italy) 

Worlds oldest bonsai tree
Image courtesy of the Crespi museum

So as mentioned above, without a doubt, the undisputed champion when comes to the oldest bonsai tree in existence is a 1000-year-old Ficus Retusa tree, located in the Crespi Bonsai Museum, in Crespi, Italy. 

Now you might be thinking, how has a 1000-year-old tree managed to make its way to Italy? 

Well, the Ficus tree was the subject of negotiations that lasted well over a decade between Italy and China. 

Now on top of this, this tree is unique in the sense that its pot is also an antique

Its pot has been forged of one solid block of wood which, in turn, is the world’s largest bonsai pot. 

How has this tree managed to live for so long?

This tree doesn’t get the record of being the world’s oldest bonsai tree, without significant help along the way. 

Aside from careful aftercare (watering, repotting, sunlight, pruning, and wiring) to help this tree grow throughout the centuries, specialist artists have been bought on board to help maintain the tree. 

The main process has been tiny gradual changes in the tree’s temperature, style, and design.

This helps gradually adapt the tree to new styles, sizes, and locations.

When compared to making drastic changes all in one go which will be fatal to a tree this old. 

Currently, this tree is tended to by several “bonsai masters” who care for this tree daily. 

During its first 10 years in Italy, notable bonsai artist Shotaro Kawahara managed the tree. 

Following on from this, both Crespi Lavazza and Alberto Lavazza have been taking care of the tree ever since – not wanting to entrust the massive responsibilities to other people. 

This tree has become the centerpiece of the Crespi museum and greets visitors in the main pagoda of the museum. 

2) 1000-year-old Juniper bonsai (Omiya, Japan)

1000 year old juniper

It’s not just fig trees and Chinese Elms that make up this list of oldest bonsai trees, evergreens such as Juniper bonsai are also commonplace. 

Located in historic Omaiyan bonsai village then comes a fantastic 1000-year-old Juniper that gives the Crespi Ficus a run for its money. 

This tree was pulled directly from the forests in Omiya and has been carbon-dated to be well over a thousand years old. 

This Juniper then currently resides in the Mansei-en bonsai nursery and is cared for by the prestigious Kato family.  

How has this tree managed to live for so long?

This tree has managed to make it to 1000 years for one very good reason. 

The Kato family. 

You see the Omiya bonsai village was opened publicly in 1925 however, they have been caring for bonsai for generations having their private gardens since well before the 19th century. 

This tree was pulled directly from a forest estimated to be somewhere near the current village location. 

As such, the care of this tree has been passed down from generation to generation whilst its surroundings have reminded the same. 

On top of this, the Omiya Juniper is a lot less well-groomed than some of the other trees on this list. 

It’s bright white deadwood sticking out on the tree. 

This means that less upkeep care and opportunities to damage the tree are present, helping sustain its old age. 

3) The 800-year-old Shunkaen twin bonsai trees (Tokyo, Japan)

oldest bonsai tree - Shunkaen Bonsai Museum
Image courtesy of Shunkaen Bonsai Museum

So next up, I don’t just have one bonsai tree for you, but two twin bonsai trees located in the Shunkaen Bonsai Museum in Tokyo, Japan

It’s estimated that both of these trees are around 800 years old and are a huge drawing card for the museums where they are based since they opened in 2002.  

These trees have won numerous awards, most notably the Prime Minister award in Japan – a whopping 4 times!

How has this tree managed to live for so long?

Whilst a lot of the history of these trees is lost to the annuls of history, for the past 30 years, what has constantly kept this tree successful is the masterwork undertaken by legendary bonsai artist, Master Kunio Kobayashi

On top of this, the tree has some severe deadwood on it, either artificially created through lime sulfur or manually created through things like Jin

As such, the upkeep of this tree will not be as severe as if the trunk and branches were left to grow naturally, helping this tree age. 

4) 800-year-old White Pine (Tamatuso, Japan)

Worlds most expensive bonsai
Courtesy of S-cube

The vast majority of trees on this list are unlikely to sell. 

These trees are typically handed down from generation to generation and have significant sentimentality and history attached to them. 

As such, when one of these older trees does eventually go for sale, they can fetch record-breaking amounts – making national news in the protest. 

This was the case with an 800-year-old White Pine bonsai tree which was sold at the 11th Asia-Pacific Bonsai and Suiseki Convention & Exhibition back in 2011. 

A bid was made at 100,000,000 which was worth around 1.3 million dollars. 

Today using inflation calculators this tree could sell for well over $7 million. 

How has this tree managed to live for so long?

So this tree has managed to live for so long mainly thanks to the hard work undertaken by S-Cube. 

S-Cube is a specialist bonsai museum/outlet located in Saitama Japan and has worked on creating some of the most expensive and well cared for trees in the world. 

Their current collection stands at well over 2000 trees and so having a tree that is valued at well over $1 million shows the amount of care provided to this tree. 

On top of this, whilst this tree is a relatively large bonsai, it does not have a lot of harsh cuts, Sabamiiki, or jin techniques allowing this tree to flourish in as natural a way as possible. 

5) 700-year-old Japanese Juniper (Omiya, Japan)

700-year-old Japanese Juniper
Image courtesy of Omiya Bonsai

Making their second appearance on this list is the Omiya Bonsai Gardens once again with a showstopper of a 700-year-old Juniper bonsai. 

While its true age is hard to determine due to the lack of testing undertaken on this specific tree, it does stand at 63cm tall and 83cm wide, showering that the size of the tree does not necessarily relate to the age of the tree. 

What’s even more impressive about this tree is that unlike the other trees on this list, the only way to achieve its special trunk is by a significant amount of training done over the 700 years of this tree’s life. 

On top of this, the Japanese Juniper (also commonly referred to as Garyo or the reclining dragon in the collection) has been kept at a relatively small size classification meaning that contacts pruning and care are required of this tree on an ongoing basis to maintain it’s distinct shape. 

How has this tree managed to live for so long?

So all the points we raised about the 1000-year-old Omiyan Juniper stand for this 700-year-old Juniper. 

The village’s long history of keeping bonsai has no doubt been crucial in this tree living so long. 

Unlike the earlier Juniper, however, this tree has clearly maintained constant care, through trimming and pruning to keep it this size which has helped prepare it to live so long. 

This Tree is also bespoke trained by the bonsai master and member of the Kato family, Kato Takahiro who no doubt has a hand in the success of growing this tree. 

6) 600-year-old Red Pine bonsai – Atami, Japan 

600 year old red pine
Image courtesy of flickr

Whilst there isn’t typically a relationship between the size of a bonsai tree and its age, this 600-year olf Red Juniper tree might have your thinking very differently. 

Located in the Akeo Herb and Rose Garden found in Atami, Japan, this tree is well over 16 feet tall (4.8 meters) and 30 feet (9.1 meters) wide – no wonder it is commonly referred to as the dwarf giant!

Now many bonsai enthusiasts will discredit this tree as a bonsai due to its size, after all, bonsai trees are meant to be miniature trees. 

That being said, this tree has been grown for the past 600 years in a giant trough-like pot. 

Now if this tree was to be left to its own devices and grow naturally it would be significantly larger so even though this tree is on the upper end of what counts as an imperial bonsai, it is still very much a bonsai tree. 

How has this tree managed to live for so long?

Two main factors have helped the Atami Red Pine bonsai tree live for so long. 

First, this tree belongs to the Red Pine species. 

In the wild, these trees can live on average for up to 400 years. 

As you will likely know, bonsai trees typically live for 2 to 3 times as long as regular trees due to the training and miniaturization process which has helped this growth significantly. 

Secondly, this tree has been supported even with its large weight and long branches.

As the image above shows, as this tree has grown in size and stature, support beams were added to prevent the larger branches from breaking. 

Finally, this tree is kept in a world-renounced national park bringing in hundreds of spectators every day. 

This ensures that the tree is well kept and looked after with the abscess of watering, fertilizing, and general care not being missed. 

7) 500-year-old five-needle Pine (Tokyo, Japan) 

 Saindai Shogun no Matsu
Image courtesy of Japans imperial palace

It’s not just Junipers that make up the list of evergreen bonsai trees that live the longest. 

Located in Tokyo’s reputable imperial palace collection of bonsai trees, this is the crown jewel of the collection, 

This tree unlike some of the others on this list has a name – the Saindai Shogun no Matsu. 

Named after Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu when this tree was a meagrer 200 years old, this tree truly is the masterpiece of the imperial palace’s collection. 

How has this tree managed to live for so long?

The main reason the Saindai Shogun no Matsu has managed to live so long is the royal connection this tree has. 

This tree is incredibly prestigious, having been gifted to the Emperor of Japan well over 500 years ago. 

As such, from generation to generation, emperor to emperor this bonsai has been passed down, with great care. 

As such, unlike some of the other trees on this list, this tree has a dedicated group of bonsai artists to help keep this tree healthy. 

On top of this, Pine trees and Scots Pine trees specifically left alone in the wild can live for up to 700 years meaning, this tree has at least another 200 years to go. 

Throw the fact that bonsai trees live up much longer than regular trees it’s safe to say this tree might not even be halfway through its life at 500 years old. 

8) 500-year-old Black Pine Bonsai – (Tokyo, Japan)

Oldest bonsai tree
Image Courtesy of Livejapan

While the other trees on his list are relatively well known, there are still a few that are hidden gems, lost to the echoes of many a bonsai museum. 

One such bonsai is a 500-year-old black Pine bonsai located in Japan’s notable Shunka-en bonsai museum in Tokyo, Japan. 

This tree in particular was subject to an interesting article back in 2018 whereby live japan editor Timothy compared the tree to another one to get its true valuation. 

The black Pine then is valued at a whopping 1 million dollars and is notable for its beautiful natural deadwood that covers the tree. 

How has this tree managed to live for so long?

Whilst the amount of exact knowledge on the care for this tree is limited, belonging to a notable bonsai museum such as the Shunka-en bonsai museum we can assume that it is maintained very well by some of the best bonsai artists in the world including Jin-san who was referenced in the article. 

Throw into the mix that this tree is of a Pine variety, which as we discussed earlier, live for a lot longer than other trees. 

Finally, this tree has a lot of natural deadwood. 

This suggests that this was not created manually and instead is the product of the tree’s natural environment. 

From this we can assume that minimal chemicals or excessive cuts have been used on this tree, further adding to the age of the tree. 

9) 404-year-old Shimpaku Juniper (Saitama, Japan) 

oldest bonsai trees - the stolen tree
Image courtesy of Seiji Iimura Facebook

On a sadder note, we come to a 400-year-old Shumpaki Juniper. 

Whilst the fact that this tree managed to make it to 400 years old is super impressive, this tree made headlines for all the wrong reasons back in 2019. 

Seiji Iimura and his partner Fuyumi who were the owners of this tree unfortunately had it stolen making international news. 

This tree was said to be worth around $91,000 and will have likely be sold on the black market

Now 4 years on, if this tree is still alive it has reached over 400 years old but sadly, there is no real way of confirming the tree’s current condition. 

How has this tree managed to live for so long?

The main reason this tree has lived for so long is due to Seiji Iimura and Fuyumi. 

The married couple clearly has a passion for bonsai, with Fuyumi herself stating that when the tree was stolen all she wanted was for the thief to care for the tree and stated: 

“It can live forever, even after we’re gone. I want whoever took it to make sure that it’s properly watered.”

Before it was stolen this tree was located in Saitama. A small village outside Tokyo that has a notable bonsai growing community.  This ensured the tree will have been well cared for throughout its life. 

10) 393-year-old Yamaki Pine (Washington, USA)

Oldest bonsai tree - white pine hiroshima
Image courtesy of U.S. NATIONAL ARBORETUM

Finally, we come to a 393-year-old Yamaki Pine bonsai that currently resides in US National Arboretum in Washington. 

This tree has a very interesting history which wasn’t bought to light until fairly recently in 2001. 

Since its true history has been revealed this has become arguably one of the most popular bonsai trees in history. 

This tree then was donated from Masaru Yamaki to the US back in 1976 as a gift for the country’s bicentennial. 

Unbeknownst to all parties involved, it turns out that this tree was in Hiroshima on the day when the first nuclear bomb dropped on the 6th of August 1945. 

This only came to light when almost 30 years after the tree was donated to the Arboretum. 

The grandchildren of Umaki visited to see how the tree was doing and provided extra history about the life of the tree. They let them know about the news footage of the tree. This footage was taken on the day of the bombings, directly from the bonsai nursery it was kept in. 

How has this tree managed to live for so long?

One reason, why this tree has managed to be one of the oldest bonsai, is that it is a pine. 

Pine species as mentioned tend to live for a lot longer than other species. 

Secondly, this tree was kept in an especially bonsai nursery at the Yamaki nursery for most of its life.

Throughout its life it has had the benefit of being cared for by some of the best bonsai experts.  

What is the oldest bonsai tree that has ever lived?

The oldest bonsai tree that has ever lived is a 1000-year-old Ficus Retusa tree. This is currently based in The Crespi bonsai museum in Italy. The second oldest bonsai tree in existence is a 1000-year-old Juniper based in Omiya, Japan. 

Oldest bonsai tree that is also the tallest?

The oldest bonsai tree that is also the oldest is the 600-year-old Pine bonsai. This is located in the  Akeo Herb and Rose Garden found in Atami, Japan. The tree is 16 feet tall (4.8 meters) and 30 feet (9.1 meters) wide.  

What are the oldest types of bonsai trees? 

The oldest Decisdouse bonsai tree in existence is a 1000-year olf Ficus Retusa found in Crespi Italy. The oldest Evergreen coniferous bonsai is a 1000-year-old tree based in Omiya, Japan

What bonsai tree species live the longest? 

Typically Juniper and Pine bonsai tree varieties will be among the oldest in existence. These bonsai trees can live for more than 500 years old each if cared for correctly. Pine trees in particular can live for 700 years in the wild and much longer when transformed into bonsai. 

Plant breed

Average Lifespan

Japanese Maple

Over 100 years

Chinese Elm

Over 100 years


20 years in the wild but have been known to live for over 100 years for bonsai

Bodhi Tree

Average 100 years with older species living for thousands of years

Common Beech

300 years – 1000 years


20 – 30 years with some bonsai reaching 100 years old


200 years


70 – 100 years

Crape Myrtle

50 years

Fukien Tea

100 years


500 years

How old do bonsai trees live?

Bonsai trees, regardless of plant breed or type, if maintained and nurtured will live on average for 100 years. Some avid bonsai hobbyists have managed to grow trees that live for more than 200 years. With Some of the oldest trees reaching over 1000 years old. 

To read up more on this, check out my post on how long bonsai trees live here

How to tell the age of a bonsai tree?

To find the age for your bonsai, multiply the diameter of your bonsai by the growth rate. To find a more accurate age count, prune a branch from your tree and count the number of rings. This method however may pose some damage to your tree. 

To read up more about this, check out my post on how to tell the age of a bonsai tree here. 

What country do bonsai trees live in the oldest?

Bonsai trees that have been cared for and cultivated in japan are amongst the oldest bonsai trees in existence. This is because there are several notable bonsai tree masters located in Japan. These include the Kato family and museums such as the Shunka-en bonsai museum. 

How to make your bonsai tree live longer? 

To ensure your bonsai tree lives as long as possible, water your plant regularly. Give it plenty of sunlight, and ensure it has plenty of moisture. Try to best match the climate and temperature your plant originated from. 

Some other key tips to keep your bonsai tree for longer include: 

  • Checking your bonsai tree for scale regularly and removing. 
  • Check for any other pests
  • Maintain good bonsai etiquette by pruning and maintaining your tree regularly 
  • Try to keep your bonsai in the same place and avoid moving it around too much 
  • Invest in other bonsai trees to help bonsai growth. 
  • Regularly attend training to ensure you are aware of the best techniques 
  • Invest in fertilizer and quality soil but do not overuse
  • Repot your bonsai when they get too big, ensuring you take care of their roots in the process. 
  • Avoid over trimming your tree

My top picks for the gear you will need!

So like I mentioned earlier, over the past three years of running PlantPaladin, hundreds of people have asked me for my recommendations on the best bonsai gear on the market. 

Having spent thousands of dollars on bonsai items these past few years and tested at least 100 bonsai-specific products, I’ve listed my favorite products below – All of which I highly recommend and think you can get great value. 

They can purchase directly by clicking the link to take them to Amazon. 

Bonsai Tool Set: One of the significant challenges I’ve had is finding a toolset that was not only durable but didn’t break the bank. SOLIGT has recently developed a fantastic bonsai tool set that covers all the tools you need to trim, prune, and repot your trees. – You can grab it here

Complete Bonsai Set: Many of you will want to grow your bonsai trees entirely from scratch, but finding the varicose seeds, pots, and other items in one place can be challenging. Leaves and Sole then have created a complete bonsai set that I’ve personally used that ticks all the boxes. You can grab it here

Bonsai wire: The number of times I’ve run out of wire for my bonsai or purchased cheap bonsai wire that doesn’t do the job is embarrassing for me to admit. After a lot of trial and error, I found that using Hotop’s aluminum bonsai wire is one of the best options on the market. This can easily be used for both indoor and outdoor bonsai. You can grab it here.

Fehed Nicass

Fehed Nicass has been passionate about all things bonsai and botany focused for the past 3 years. What started out as a hobby has developed as a passion and he is now on a mission to teach and learn.

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