As I promised in the last post, here is the styling of that ficus triangularis
I found it at Jim Smith’s nursery in Vero Beach. I’d actually seen it many times and finally it said to me “Adam, take me home. I’ll be a good tree for you”
And so I did.
The ficus triangularis or, triangle fig, is native to Malaysia and more specifically, just off the mainland on the Triangle Islands, hence the name. It is a ficus that doesn’t need much water and,if watered too much, will become chlorotic and yellow. It naturally grows on the lee side of the mountains on the Triangle Islands and therefore gets very little water. Which makes it a good subject for bonsai when using good, inorganic bonsai soil. It can grow about 20 feet tall but mostly it is used as a houseplant (Egads Jeremy!)
Ficus triangularis is often mistaken for mistletoe fig (ficus deltoidea).
The flower and fruit are different and the leaf is different too.
This is a sketch of the mistletoe figs leaf
Notice the veining.
Now a pic of the triangle fig’s leaf

F. Triangularis will have pretty big leaves (it grows in partial shade, like a coffee plant) but, if grown in full sun and leaf reduction techniques are used, the leaf size can be brought down to less than an inch.
They flower often (which, with a fig, looks like the fruit) and all of them I’ve seen have the fruit/flower present.
The bark color and texture remind me of the f. Burt davyii, smooth and creamy. Which is not a surprise as the f. Burt davyii grows on Burt Davis Island in similar conditions.
Ok….I’m lying about the Triangle Islands (and Burt Davis Island).
Everything else I’ve said is true. Mostly.

Let’s style the tree.
First, defoliate
The soil that this has been growing in is totally broken down and as fine as silt (its been waiting a long time for me to pick up). Subsequently, there is very little fine root growth. And it’s suffered a bit, it has had much twig dieback. Which, according to my f. Triangularis expert on call, is not usual.
This knob
And this lower branch

Show the scars of the dieback.
The lower branch must go in this design (bunjin) so I can clean the lower bulge up a bit (that sounds dirty)
That’s better.
Now some wire
The tough thing is matching the branch placement with the unique trunk character. It’s very angular but a rounded angularity.
The pot I’m putting it in is one I got years ago from Dale Cochoy (Wild Things Bonsai Studio) and I’ve finally found the tree for it.
Here’s a look at it

Some branch details





And now, the front!!!
A photo of a bunjin tree is always the hardest photo to take. One can never get the subtle movement and depth that a bunjin is known for.
They are meant to be walked around and looked up at.
Again I will reiterate this assertion: seeing a photo of a bonsai will never show you what it looks like. Go to shows, nurseries, exhibits and see them in person.
only shows line. Not depth.
Anyway, my plans for this tree.
A sketch:
That left branch needs to be longer and the angle lowered. Which will happen in time. And it just needs some more ramification and twigging.
And leaves.
Hope it was worth the wait.
Oh, another common name is the sweetheart tree. The leaf is heart shaped. Awwww…..

15 thoughts

      1. I’m not sure how vigorous ficus grow over there? Yeah give it a whack. I start out with 3 upward branches. When you prune, always prune down to 2 leaves and don’t waste any space (Don’t leave any stem after the leaf)


      2. Good advice for all broadleaf trees. I’m in Florida. One of the best places to grow ficus. Look at Erik Wigert or Jim Smith’s websites, you’ll see what I mean


      3. Awesome, i’ll take a look 🙂 Sydney here is really good for growing ficus too but it’s a temperate climate. Some years are better than others.


  1. Yep, I picked out old f. triangularis yesterday for one of great promise – I see you already had your eye on it. :)) Just been browsing today on “pots” and ran across this interesting site Interesting, but I don’t want to imagine prices. 😦 Excellent work on turning “stock” to “specimen”; keep the interesting and educational coming !! Who is doing you play-by-play photography?


      1. Photography, like bonsai, is appreciated in the eye of the beholder. You’ve got my five stars – plenty of progressive, detailed shots with informative comments. You’re down in the trenches with the muck and the mire; far from the world of slick cover mag shots done with lighting and meters. I’d buy the book . . .


  2. Beautiful tree. I have had a ficus triangularis for years in slant style. Our botanical garden has displayed mine and insisted that it was a ficus deltoidea but it is a ficus triangularis. I love your sumo bunjin!


  3. Very nice tree. And inspiring too. I live in Haiti(Caribean) where only a few people are growing Bonsai trees. I actually own three Ficus Triangulata and after seeing your work, I am pretty sure I will transform them for the better.


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