Species Specific > Shimpaku Juniper Bonsai Discussion

Itoigawa or Kishu?

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Hi All,

I know everyone probably has their preference, and I know basically the difference in looks between the two varieties, but are there any differences in growth habits and the way you work an itoigawa vs. a kishu? I had my first real encounter with an itoigawa just a couple weeks ago, since much of the shimpaku around San Diego seems to be kishu (the couple sources that I know of, anyway).

Love to hear your experiences with either or both of these!


PS I've found Brent Walston's catalog at Evergreen Gardenworks to have some of the best descriptions on the net of the different juniper varieties.

Tak Shimazu says that he has never had spider mites on Itoigawa only Kishu

I've had spider mites on both.  Easily dealt with though.

Itoigawa is much finer, usually better for in-scale foliage for shohin.

John Kirby:
 like them both, though John's point about foliage size is to be considered.  I too have had SPider Mites on both, Itoigawa (my favorite) can also be a little touchy. So weigh your choices and decide on a tree by tree basis. On really big trees I like the Tohaku (native) foliage, can make for a nice tree as well. I don't know how many other named varieties/regional isloates there are, but there seem to be quite a few. John

We have a few hundred kishu and itoigawa growing in the ground, side by side.  Same water, same fertilizer (lots).  Here's the obvious difference:
1. The kishu extend much faster.  The new shoots are much longer.  But, they don't "trunk up" like the itoigawa.
2.  The itoigawa have less extension, tighter foliage.  After a few years, the itoigawa look like they are smaller, but they have grown notably thicker trunks/nebari, compared to the kishu.
3.  There is a definite difference in foliage color, when you see them side by side.

So, that's the difference we see when we grow them.  I don't know if that helps you buying an unknown tree.

Good luck,
Chris Kirk
Telperion Farms


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