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I would like to know if bonsai type of a tree is a separate species from its normal version. Do they differ by genes, or is it just a matter of different physical care?

Can I grow a bonsai tree from seed of a normal outdoor tree (of course, I understand that not every species will endure being dwarfed)? Can I grow a normal outdoor tree from some seeds labeled "bonsai"?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it should go to Gardening.SE $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 19:34

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Yes. For any species that it is possible to grow as a bonsai tree, it is also possible to grow that species as a non-bonsai tree. The process of creating a bonsai tree involves growing a tree in a severely restricted pot with a minimal amount of soil, and trimming both the roots and branches to maintain a desired shape and size. It is the small growing space and regular pruning which keeps bonsai trees small, not the genetics of the tree.

You may wish to check the list of species used in bonsai on Wikipedia to get a sense of which species make good bonsai plants.

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  • $\begingroup$ What if we grew bonsai trees for many generations, selecting the individuals "most suited" for the bonsai process? I don't know how long it would take, but eventually there should be genetic changes to help the plants adapt to the selection. $\endgroup$
    – user137
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 1:43
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, you could. That would be standard artificial selection. But given that bonsai as currently practiced doesn't require such selective breeding, why would you make the effort? $\endgroup$
    – bshane
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 1:56

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