Banyan

A banyan, also spelled "banian", is a fig that begins its life as an epiphyte, i.e. a plant that grows on another plant, when its seed germinates in a crack or crevice of a host tree or edifice. The botanical name of banyan tree is Ficus benghalensis and beloongs to the family of Moraceae. Banyan is the tree native to India.



Banyans are strangler figs. They grow from seeds that land on other trees. The roots they send down smother their hosts and grow into stout, branch-supporting pillars that resemble new tree trunks. Banyans are the world's biggest trees in terms of the area they cover. It is grown throughout the sub- Himalayan region and in the deciduous forests.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

30 metres (100 feet)


Width-Circumference

spreads laterally indefinitely


Approximate pH

4.5 - 8.5


Classification


The original banyan, F. benghalensis, can grow into a giant tree covering several hectares. Over time, the name became generalized to all strangler figs of the Urostigma subgenus. The many banyan species also include:


  • The ficus microcarpa can be found in: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Malay Archipelago, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan.

  • The ficus pertusa (the central American Banyan) can be found all over: central and south America, Mexico, and Paraguay.

  • The ficus citrifolia (the shortleaf fig) commonly grows in: central and south America, south Florida, and around the Caribbean islands.

  • The ficus aurea (otherwise known as the Florida strangler fig) is grown in you guessed it, Florida, and also in the Caribbean islands.

  • The ficus macrophylla (the Moreton bay fig) is found all over central and south America.


List of Banyan Trees in India

  • Thimmamma Marrimanu, the tree is situated about 35 km from Kadri Lakshmi Narasimha temple in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh. Its branches spread over 4 acres, with a canopy of 19,107 square metres and it was recorded as the largest tree specimen in the world in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1989 Currently its the biggest banyan tree in the world.

  • Kabirvad, Gujarat is one of the biggest banyan tree in India. Currently the area of its canopy is 17,520 m2 (4.33 acres) with a perimeter of 641 m (2,103 ft). Named after saint Kabir, it is one of the most famous destination for tourists in Gujarat near Bharuch city.

  • The Great Banyan in the botanical garden near Kolkata, a clonal colony of Indian Banyan with a crown circumference of over 330 meter. The area occupied by the tree is about 18,918 square metres (about 1.89 hectares or 4.67 acres). The present crown of the tree has a circumference of 486 m. and the highest branch rises to 24.5 m; it has at present 3772 aerial roots reaching down to the ground as a prop root. Its height is almost equivalent to the Gateway of India.

  • Pillalamarri, 800-year-old banyan tree located in Mahabubnagar, Telangana, India. The tree is spread over an area of 4 acres, according to archeological survey of India it is the third largest in India.

  • The 450-year-old giant Banyan tree at Adyar in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, in the grounds of the Theosophical Society headquarters under which people listened to discourses by intellectuals including J. Krishnamurti, Annie Besant and Maria Montessori.

  • Dodda Alada Mara, the 400-year-old tree also called the Big Banyan Tree at Ramohalli, Bengaluru, Karnataka. It is 95 feet tall and spreads across an area of 3 acres. This tree is located 28 km from Bengaluru.

  • Chosath Yogini temple: a 1000 year old Banyan tree, located in Maharajpur, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh (India), spread in 50000sq feet, the biggest banyan tree of central India

  • Pirbaba's Taroda sacred grove is located in Amravati district, Maharashtra. In there, there is a huge banyan tree spread over 2.5 acres of land inside the grove due to which is considered a "sacred tree."

  • Cholti Kheri scared tree in Fatehgarh Sahib district of Punjab.

  • Pemgiri, with 3.5 acres spread it is largest banyan tree of Maharashtra, 16 km west from Sangamner on Pune-Nasik Highway.

Growing Banyan Trees

Space and Location

Need to give both space and location some thought before plant the banyan tree. This tree can grow to cover a few acres of the garden. As for height, a mature banyan tree needs about 100 feet of vertical space to grow and flourish.


Need to make sure that the tree isn’t bordering the driveway or near the street. With a lush canopy that grows larger every year, a fully grown banyan tree can rapidly become an obstacle in the garden. To make it even more complicated, it’s not recommended to move the tree since that could cause it to drop its leaves. So once picked a place, that will become its permanent location.


Fertilizer

The banyan tree needs to be fertilized once a year. Every spring apply a balanced fertilizer and spread it evenly around the tree’s roots. Make sure to stay clear from the tree’s drip line. The fertilizer should have equal parts nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Go for a 20-20-20 one for better results since the tree needs plenty of nutrition as it drops new roots every year.


Water

For a fast-growing tree, the banyan needs plenty of water and moisture. While you can’t do much about the moisture part since it’s impacted by the type of weather in your region, watering the tree is crucial for its growth. However, once the tree’s roots are set, you won’t have to water it as regularly. The banyan tree handles and adapts well to dry soil.


Light

As a native of the tropics, the banyan tree enjoys the shining sun. If you don’t have an area that gets direct light from the sun, then one with partial shade will do just as fine. As long as that space is not completely shaded or dark, the height of the tree allows it to tower over buildings and get access to the sun.


Frost

Frost is the number one enemy of the banyan tree. Since it grows best in warm climates, it may not be suitable for all regions.


Propagating Banyan Trees

Banyan trees can be propagated from softwood cuttings or seeds. Cuttings can be taken from the tips and rooted, or by eye cuttings, which require a piece of stem about a half inch below and above a leaf. Insert cuttings into a suitable rooting medium, and within a couple of weeks, roots (or shoots) should begin to develop.


As parts of the banyan tree plant are poisonous (if ingested), caution should be used while handling it, as sensitive individuals may be susceptible to skin irritations or allergic reactions.


If choosing to grow banyan from seed, allow seedheads to dry on the plant before collecting. Keep in mind, however, that a growing banyan tree from seed can take some time.


Banyan Tree Disease

Leaf spot disease of banyan tree: The yellow colour spots on leaf is due the infection of pathogen.


Benefits of Banyan Tree


Some remarkable benefits of a banyan tree for our health are as follows:

  • A banyan tree treats diarrhoea – People suffering from diarrhoea can take small budding leaves from the banyan tree to soak them in water. It forms a sturdy astringent agent which is excellent to heal gas, diarrhoea, irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, and dysentery.

  • Prevents gum disease and tooth decay – When you take aerial roots of a banyan tree and chew them, then they would prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bleeding gums. These roots work as a natural toothpaste besides helping bad breath. The aerial roots also make our teeth stronger. These roots have astringent and anti-bacterial properties that turn effectual against many oral health problems.

  • Improves immunity – Every person who has strong immunity leads a healthy life. Immunity helps people fight against various diseases. Additionally, it also shields people in other ways. The banyan tree's bark is an excellent immune-boosting agent.

  • Stops inflammation – Joint pain and arthritis are linked with joints' inflammation. It isn't only painful but does also limit people's daily movements. The banyan leaves' sap has anti-inflammatory features for fighting against some conditions, such as arthritis.

  • Treats infections of the vagina – Women suffer from vaginal infections because of the shortage of proper hygienic measures, and it happens as their vagina remains moist. In this condition, the leaves and bark of the banyan tree can treat infections of the vagina well. You can crush some dried leaves of banyan for making a tablespoon of powder. This powder should be boiled in one litre of water to let the water become half of the actual water. After you have cooled this infusion, you can apply it to your affected part.


Uses


Medicinal uses : The Banyan tree also has several medicinal properties. Its leaf, bark, seeds and fig are used for the variety of disorders like diarrhea, polyuria, dental, diabetes and urine disorders. The wood of the Banyan tree is used in making door panels, boxes and the other items. Its bark is used for making paper and ropes. The milky latex that comes from its leaves and stems is used in many Ayurvedic medicines.


Other uses : In India its edible leaves are used as the plates. It is planted for the soil conservation. Wood is used for well curbs, door panels, boxes, furniture etc. It is suitable for paper pulp. The wood of the aerial roots is stronger and is used for the tent poles and cart yokes.


Cultural importance : Banyan tree is respected and is considered as sacred by the people in India. In the sacred Hindu Book 'Bhagwad Gita' Lord Krishna has sung praises on the Banyan tree. People in India grow Banyan tree closer to the Peepal tree. As Banyan tree is considered as the male plant closely related to the Peepal tree. It symbolize Trimurti with Vishnu as the barl, Shiva as the branches and Brahma as the roots. Indians considered Banyan tree as 'Kalpa Vriksha' the tree that fulfill all your wishes.The mighty Banyan Tree is considered as immortal and has always been the focal point for the village communities in India. It is probably the biggest and friendliest of all trees. Banyan tree is the tree of knowledge and tree of life.



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