The bonsai ginseng or microcarp belongs as the high Ficus, including the fruit fig(Ficus carica) to the family of the Moraceae, the same of the mulberry tree. It is native to different areas of Asia (Indian subcontinent but also Malaysia and Taiwan), but it has then naturalized also in Oceania, while here, it has spontaneously grown in some areas of Sicily.
It is characterized by rapid growth and in the wild it can grow up to about 15 meters high. Due to its characteristics, in particular the grey trunk with smooth bark, the small and leathery leaves, the very ramified, slightly hanging, the formation at the base of aerial roots and also the small fruits which give it its name, it is often used as a bonsai plant.
In our southern regions it can be kept outdoors all year round, while in the north it should be kept indoors from autumn to spring. It prefers well-lit positions, but not directly in the sun; it should not be watered excessively to avoid the onset of rottenness, while it appreciates the humidity of the air: so it likes spraying on the foliage and aerial roots. If dust accumulates on the leaves, they can be cleaned by gently wiping them with a soft cloth.
In the form of bonsai, both the foliage and the roots should be resized every couple of years. If it is treated as a normal houseplant, the pot should be replaced with a slightly larger one every two to three years.
It does not have particular problems of diseases and parasites, if not the rottenness due to excessive watering and, occasionally, some attack by cochineals, which can be fought with specific products (anticoccidents, activated white oils).
Curiosity: The Bonsai ginseng or microcarp , A much utilized variety, especially as bonsai, is called Ginseng. It is not, however, the plant from which the substance used in traditional medicine is taken, which is obtained instead from plants of the genus Panax, belonging to the family of the Araliaceae.