The artwork of bonsai originated in China. As subsequently refined in Japan, its strategies produce miniature bushes that give aesthetic pleasure to individuals throughout Asia and the broader world past. This appreciation is mirrored within the couple-on-the-street interview footage included into “The Biology Behind Bonsai Timber,” the video above from Youtuber Jonny Lim, higher often called The Backpacking Biologist. Not solely does Lim collect constructive views on bonsai round Los Angeles, he additionally finds in that very same metropolis a bonsai nursery run by Bob Pressler, who has spent greater than half a century mastering the artwork.
Even Pressler admits that he doesn’t absolutely perceive the biology of bonsai. Lim’s seek for scientific solutions sends him to “one thing referred to as the apical meristem.” That’s the a part of the tree manufactured from “stem cells discovered on the ideas of the shoots and roots.” Stem cells, as chances are you’ll keep in mind from their lengthy second within the information a number of years in the past, have the potential to show into any sort of cell.
The cells of bonsai are the identical measurement as these of normal bushes, analysis has revealed, however due to the deliberate chopping of roots and resultant restriction of vitamins to the apical meristem, their leaves are made up of fewer cells in whole. Lim attracts an analogy with baking cookies of various sizes: “The elements are precisely the identical. The one distinction is that bonsais have much less beginning materials.”
Having gained his personal appreciation for bonsai, Lim additionally waxes poetic on how these miniature bushes “nonetheless develop on the face of adversity, they usually accomplish that completely.” However as one commenter replies, “Why recreate adversity?” Claiming that the method is “crippling bushes for simply aesthetics,” this particular person presents one of many recognized instances in opposition to bonsai. However that case, in keeping with the consultants Lim consults, relies on sure widespread misconceptions in regards to the processes concerned: that the wires used to place limbs “torture” the bushes, for instance. However as others level out, do those that make these anti-bonsai arguments really feel simply as pained in regards to the many lawns that get mown down each week?
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Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embody the Substack publication Books on Cities, the guide The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Fb, or on Instagram.