Ficus ginseng plants are incredibly popular as bonsai trees, especially for beginners. Although bonsai is a horticultural practice, it also has deep meaning and symbolism that extends to specific trees. Ficus ginseng plants also have important meanings in feng shui and cultures across Southeast Asia. In this article, we’ll explore the meaning and symbolism of Ficus ginseng trees.
Ficus Ginseng Meaning and Symbolism – The Essentials
As bonsai, Ficus ginseng can symbolize abundance, balance, harmony, patience, simplicity, unity, and new beginnings. In feng shui, Ficus ginseng plants are associated with good luck and prosperity. Like other Ficus species, these plants are believed to radiate positive energy, especially in China.
About Ficus Ginseng
Family, Genus & Taxonomy
Ficus ginseng trees (Ficus microcarpa) are one of approximately 850 species in the Ficus genus. The genus itself belongs to the fig or mulberry family (Moraceae). Ficus microcarpa is often confused for and sold as Ficus retusa, a similar Ficus species.
Ficus ginseng trees have distinctive pot-bellied trunks with smooth gray bark. The foliage is green and oval-shaped, with a slightly waxy feel to the leaves. Ficus ginseng trees can also develop aerial roots in humid, tropical conditions.
Wild Ficus ginseng trees grow to approximately 40 feet tall. However, some specimens have been known to exceed 100 feet tall. When grown indoors, Ficus ginseng trees usually grow between 1 and 2 feet tall.
Ficus ginseng trees can live for decades due to their slow growth rate. Some of the oldest recorded Ficus ginseng trees reached approximately 1000 years old. For most Ficus ginseng plants, it can take about 15 years to reach their mature size.
History & Origins of Ficus Ginseng
Ficus ginseng trees are native to parts of Southeastern Asia, including China and Taiwan. These trees are also indigenous to Australia and several islands in the West Pacific. Ficus ginseng trees thrive in humid tropical and subtropical climates such as rainforests, mangroves, and swamps.
Ficus ginseng trees were probably cultivated in China first as penzai trees – the Chinese forerunner to bonsai. Many commercial Ficus ginseng trees are still grown in China and Malaysia before being exported to other parts of the world.
Ficus ginseng trees get their common name from a Chinese word that translates as ‘roots’. This might refer to the aerial roots that Ficus ginseng trees can produce in humid areas. The scientific name, Ficus microcarpa, was first introduced in 1782 by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus the Younger.
The Meaning and Symbolism of Ficus Ginseng Plants
Ficus Ginseng Plants in Bonsai
Ficus ginseng trees may be some of the earliest species cultivated for bonsai growing. In 8th Century China, Ficus ginseng trees were some of the first to be used for penijing, also known as penzai. This practice focuses on creating miniature landscapes or dioramas using living trees.
Eventually, the practice spread to Japan and evolved into bonsai. The new practice differed from penjing because bonsai focuses solely on growing and maintaining the tree, rather than a diorama. Ficus ginseng trees continued to be used for both bonsai and penjing.
Ficus ginseng trees have several meanings as bonsai trees. These meanings are linked to the meaning of bonsai trees in general as well. In bonsai, Ficus ginseng trees can represent:
- Harmony in nature
- New beginnings
Bonsai trees represent patience because of the dedication required to maintain them. Many bonsai also take several years to reach maturity. Bonsai is also a way of connecting ourselves to nature, hence the associations with balance, unity, and harmony.
You can tailor the meaning of your Ficus ginseng bonsai by pruning it according to different bonsai styles. Each style represents specific aspects of bonsai symbolism. Here are the symbolic meanings of each bonsai style:
- Slanting bonsai – Patience, perseverance, strength
- Formal upright bonsai – Harmony, health, simplicity
- Informal upright bonsai – Cycle of life, harmony, perseverance
- Cascade bonsai – Harmony, patience
- Semi-cascade bonsai – Balance
- Windswept bonsai – Resilience
- Double trunk bonsai – Balance, harmony
The practice of training your Ficus ginseng bonsai can also promote calm and provide a break from other things. As such, Ficus ginseng bonsai can also symbolize new beginnings, calm, and simplicity.
Ficus Ginseng Plants in Feng Shui
Due to their link to both Chinese and Japanese botanical traditions, Ficus ginseng also has several meanings in feng shui. This Chinese practice focuses on adjusting the energy flow within your home to help boost certain aspects of your life. This involves using the Bagua map, which divides your home into areas directly related to things like family or relationships.
In feng shui, Ficus ginseng plants symbolize good luck and prosperity. According to the Bagua map, Ficus ginseng plants work best in eastern and southeastern areas. These areas respectively govern family and prosperity or wealth. As such, Ficus ginseng plants may boost these aspects of your life.
Another important theory in feng shui is the Five Elements Theory. This links each of the five elements – Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, and Wood – to particular qualities. Ficus ginseng plants are strongly linked to the Wood element, which represents compassion, creativity, growth, support, and renewal.
As living beings, Ficus ginseng plants have another important benefit in feng shui. They can absorb negative energy – also known as chi or qi – and release positive energy. As such, Ficus ginseng plants have long been associated with positive energy in Chinese culture.
Cultural Significance of Ficus Ginseng Plants in Southeast Asia
In Chinese culture, large Ficus ginseng trees are linked to positive energy as well as positive spirits. In Singapore, Ficus ginseng trees are associated with sacred sites in Buddhism and Taoism. Many other Southeast Asian cultures believe that Ficus ginseng trees are residences for mythological spirits.
Suitable Gifting Occasions for Ficus Ginseng Plants
Ficus ginseng plants can make excellent gifts for friends or family members interested in bonsai. Due to their low-maintenance care requirements, Ficus ginseng plants are ideal for beginner bonsai enthusiasts. This can also communicate new beginnings or unity to the recipient.
Ficus ginseng plants are linked to abundance and prosperity in both bonsai and feng shui. This makes a Ficus ginseng plant a great gift if you want to wish someone good luck.
Due to their link to the Wood element in feng shui, Ficus ginseng plants can communicate positive energy. This makes them a good gift for a friend or family member who is struggling with a difficult situation.
Ficus Ginseng Meaning and Symbolism FAQs:
Ficus ginseng bonsai can symbolize abundance, balance, new beginnings, and unity. In feng shui, Ficus ginseng can symbolize good luck, prosperity, and positive energy.
Are Ficus Ginseng Plants Considered Lucky?
Ficus ginseng plants are considered to be lucky because they’re linked to prosperity and success in feng shui.
How Long do Ficus Ginseng Plants Live For?
Ficus ginseng plants can live for decades with the correct care and growing environment.
Ficus ginseng plants are linked to both bonsai and feng shui. Ficus ginseng bonsai represent abundance, harmony in nature, new beginnings, simplicity, and unity. In feng shui, Ficus ginseng plants are linked to prosperity, positive energy, and the Wood element.
For more, see our in-depth guide on where to position ficus ginseng plants for optimal care.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.
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