When plants are repeatedly injured their growth is stunted and the size of organs such as leaves is greatly reduced. The basis of this effect is not well-understood however, even though it reduces yield of crops injured by herbivory, and produces dramatic effects exemplified in ornamental bonsai plants. We have investigated the genetic and physiological basis of this "bonsai effect" by repeatedly wounding leaves of the model plant Arabidopsis. This treatment stunted growth by 50% and increased the endogenous content of jasmonate (JA), a growth inhibitor, by seven-fold. Significantly, repeated wounding did not stunt the growth of the leaves of mutants unable to synthesise JA, or unable to respond to JA including coi1, jai3, myc2, but not jar1. The stunted growth did not result from reduced cell size, but resulted instead from reduced cell number, and was associated with reduced expression of CycB1;2. Wounding caused systemic disappearance of constitutively expressed JAZ1::GUS. Wounding also activates plant immunity. We show that a gene, 12-oxo-phytodienoate reductase, which catalyses a step in JA biosynthesis, and which we confirm is not required for defence, is however required for wound-induced stunting. Our data suggest that intermediates in the JA biosynthetic pathway activate defence, but a primary function of wound-induced JA is to stunt growth through the suppression of mitosis.