Serissa Foetida – Tree of a Thousand Stars

Week 01 (April 22, 2013)

Recently I was given this by my girlfriend and it re-sparked my interest in Bonsai. It was a timely in that I was about to start off this fitness regime also so what I am planning to do is to keep track of the tree growing, as well as myself, as a little reminder that growth is slow, and to enjoy the process.

From http://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/
The ‘Tree of a Thousand Stars (Serissa foetida) or ‘Snowrose’ is a lovely indoor bonsai with an abundance of beautiful star-shaped small white flowers during mid-late summer. The textured creamy bark and artistic root structure make this a truly ornamental bonsai.

And from Wikipedia;

Serissa is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae, containing only one species, Serissa foetida. It is native to open sub-tropical woodlands and wet meadows in southeast Asia, from India, and China to Japan. It is commonly called Snowrose, Tree of a thousand stars, or Japanese Boxthorn; and was formerly called Serissa japonica.

Snowrose and tree of a thousand stars are different cultivars. The only method of differentiating is measuring the difference in the shape and size of the flowers produced.

It is an evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub, 45–60 cm high, with oval, deep green, rather thick leaves that have an unpleasant smell if bruised (hence its name foetida). The upright stems branch in all directions and form a wide bushy dome. It is grown for its neat habit, good coverage of branches and long flowering time. It is also valued for its rough, grey trunk which tends to get lighter in colour with age.

Serissa flowers practically all year round, but particularly from early spring to near autumn (Thanksgiving or Christmas). The 4- to 6-lobed flowers are funnel-shaped and 1 cm wide. They first appear as pink buds but turn to a profusion of white flowers. Fertilizing is especially important during the long flowering period.

Many cultivars with double flowers or variegated leaves are also available. ‘Pink Snow Rose’ has pale pink flowers and leaves edged off-white. Other cultivars include: ‘Variegata’, ‘Variegated Pink’, ‘Pink Mystic’, ‘Snowflake’, ‘Snowleaves’, ‘Mt. Fuji’, ‘Kyoto’ and ‘Sapporo’.

Serissa is one of the most common bonsai, especially in Japan. It is not difficult to maintain as bonsai, but is very fussy. It responds adversely by dropping leaves if over-watered, under-watered, if it’s too cold, too hot, or even if just moved to a new location. The plant usually grows back to health when put back to better conditions.

My first serissa

My first serissa

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