The Japanese loanword "bonsai" has become an umbrella term in English, attached to many forms of potted or other plants, and also on occasion to other living and non-living things. According to Stephen Orr in The New York Times, "the term should be reserved for plants that are grown in shallow containers following the precise tenets of bonsai pruning and training, resulting in an artful miniature replica of a full-grown tree in nature." In the most restrictive sense, "bonsai" refers to miniaturized, container-grown trees adhering to Japanese tradition and principles.
The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation for the viewer, and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity for the grower. By contrast with other plant cultivation practices, bonsai is not intended for production of food or for medicine. Instead, bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container.