Ficus Ginseng Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance

Ficus ginseng plants (Ficus microcarpa) 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 Southeast Asian cultures. In this article, we’ll explore the meaning and symbolism of Ficus ginseng trees.

Ultimate Guide to Ficus Ginseng Meaning and Symbolism

Key Takeaways

As bonsai, Ficus ginseng can symbolize abundance, balance, harmony, patience, simplicity, unity, and new beginnings. In feng shui, these plants are associated with good luck and prosperity. Like other Ficus species, these plants are believed to radiate positive energy, especially in China.

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. The 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 trees are still grown in China and Malaysia before being exported to other parts of the world.

Etymological Meaning

Ficus ginseng trees get their common name from a Chinese word that translates as ‘roots’. This might refer to the aerial roots that the trees can produce in humid areas. The scientific name, Ficus microcarpa, was first introduced in 1782 by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus the Younger.

Ficus Ginseng Plants in Bonsai

Ficus ginseng trees may be some of the earliest species cultivated for bonsai growing. In 8th Century China, the 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. The 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, they can represent:

  • Abundance
  • Balance
  • Harmony in nature
  • New beginnings
  • Patience
  • Simplicity
  • Unity

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 bonsai by pruning it according to different 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, this bonsai can also symbolize new beginnings, calm, and simplicity.

Ficus Ginseng Plants in Feng Shui

A small ficus ginseng plant in a white plant pot

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, these plants symbolize good luck and prosperity. According to the Bagua map, Ficus ginseng plants work best in eastern and southeastern areas. These areas govern family and prosperity or wealth respectively. As such, the 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. These plants are strongly linked to the Wood element, which represents compassion, creativity, growth, support, and renewal.

As living beings, Ficus ginseng plants have a number of benefits in feng shui. They can absorb negative energy – also known as chi or qi – and release positive energy. As such, these plants have long been associated with positive energy in Chinese culture.

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, the trees are associated with sacred sites in Buddhism and Taoism. Many other Southeast Asian cultures believe that the trees are residences for mythological spirits.

Suitable Gifting Occasions

These 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.

The 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, the plants can communicate positive energy. This makes them a good gift for a friend or family member who is struggling with a difficult situation.

Wrapping Up

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, the 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.

Editorial Director | andrew@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

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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