As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Other links on this site may lead to other companies that I'm also associated with. Looking for something specific on this site? Search here:

Penjing with Rocks

Chinese 'bonsai' are known as penjing. They often include the use of rocks and stones in their design. When using rocks, they may be a plant with root over rock, rocks in landscape or even rocks alone!

Elm from the original Yee-sun Wu collection

A major Chinese Collection resides in the Yee-sun Wu Chinese Garden Pavilion in Washington, D.C.

This pavilion is named in honor of Dr. Yee-sun Wu (1905-1995) who was a wealthy Hong Kong banker and major collector.  His collection numbered over 300 trees and miniature landscapes.


Chinese landscapes often include rocks ... Trident Maple Grouping

Root-over-rock by Belgium artist
David Vanoirbeek
This rock uses small Fukien Tea
as mountain "trees."

Dr. Wu not only donated many of his trees, but he graciously funded the pavilion to house them.  In 1988, the then U.S. National Arboretum Director, Dr. H. Marc Cathey accepted the gift and referred to the Museum for the first time as:

“The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum.”

Why Penjing are Not
"Chinese Bonsai"

The following quote talks about the basic difference between Japanese bonsai and Chinese, and how the Chinese have included rocks, stones as a natural part of Chinese design.

“Bon-sai, then, literally translates as a tree in a container, and pen-jing denotes a scenery in a container. Consequently, the bonsai artist only works with plant material, miniaturizing one, two, or several trees and presenting and maintaining them in a container to suggest a natural scene. The penjing artist may do just that, or he or she may work with natural stones or rock as artistic medium. Stones can be used to accompany or enhance one or several trees, or an entire composition may be created with rocks as the major ingredient. For the Chinese, all of that is penjing.”



Root-Over-Rock
from the D.C.National Collection

Root or perhaps young trunk tucked in rock by Dr. Yee-sun Wu.  As it aged, it melded to the rock and looks very natural.


penjing, root close-up


Amazing Trident Maple was grown as a root-over-rock style.

You can see in this close-up of the roots, how they have become attached to the tall rock.



Two Chinese elms on a rock.
Notice the uniquely shaped bonsai container.

Where to Go From Here

Read more about "Chinese bonsai trees"

More Types of Bonsai Trees

Home Page


Bonsai Banter

is my free monthly newsletter. Tips, ideas and photos that may not appear on this site.

Sign up here:

Click here to see Back Issues


   Do you have a     phony bonsai?

   Free eBook     Click below: