Carmona ehretia microphylla - Fukien tea

This is a shrub growing to 4 m height, with long, straggling, slender branches. It is deciduous during the dry season. Its leaves are usually 10 – 50 mm long and 5 – 30 mm wide, and may vary in size, texture, colour and margin. It has small white flowers 8 – 10 mm in diameter.

It originates in southeast Asia where it is a popular ornamental plant, which if allowed to grow uncontrolled, can become invasive

Carmona (Fukien tea tree) is used in bonsai because of its ability to develop a thick and interesting trunk, small white flowers that bloom almost year-round, and tiny round green, red, or black fruits. The lobed leaves are shiny dark green and maintain their small size. It is however definitely an indoor plant as it can withstand frost or cold winds; it needs a draught free, well-lit location.

Best grown in moist soil that is well-drained. It is best to allow the soil to dry slightly between watering. Over-watering will lead to root rot. Under-watering will cause the leaves to blacken and fall off. An indication of plant thirst is shrivelled leaves.

Styling can be difficult as the branches are very brittle and easily scarred.

Not a plant for the inexperienced at plant growing. Survival rates are not great; any change to its environmental conditions can so easily prove fatal.  The end result if you succeed is good; the Fukien tea tree can be a beautiful, graceful bonsai.

It easily develops a thick and knotted trunk; it is evergreen, blooms frequently and has small leaves. The trunk starts out thinner than desired for bonsai with young, light brown bark, but as the plant ages, the trunk thickens slowly, turns a light grey colour and develops an attractive cracked appearance. Though small, the leaves of the Fukien tea tree make thick, dense foliage pads in time. It flowers regularly with small attractive blooms in white. If happy it will bloom almost every month of the year. As the blooms age, they turn into tiny round fruits. The fruits of a Fukien tea tree, usually appearing in early summer, can be green, red or black like a tiny roe hip.



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