What is a Banyan tree?

What is a Banyan Tree?

A Banyan Tree is a fig tree, the branches of which produce wide-ranging aerial roots which later become accessory trunks.  Its scientific name is Ficus benghalensis, it is often referred to as a strangling fig.  It is the national tree of India and one of the important symbols of the country. The Banyan Tree begins its life by growing on other trees until it envelops them completely. Aerial roots then hang down from the branches giving the banyan Tree its distinctive look.  These branches eventually become trunks, with every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the central trunk. This circle of trunks coming from one original tree can reach an enormous size, up to 200 metres in diameter and 30 metres in height. The seeds of Banyan Trees are dispersed by fruit-eating birds. The seeds are small, and most banyans grow in forests, so a plant that germinates from a seed that lands on the ground is very unlikely to survive. However, many of the seeds land on branches and stems of trees, when these seeds germinate, they send roots down towards the ground. The leaves of the Banyan Tree are large, leathery, glossy green, and elliptical in shape. Like most fig trees, the leaf bud is covered by two large scales, which fall of as the leaf develops.

Picture showing what is a banyan Tree

Naturally occuring in tropical forests throughout the subcontinent. Banyan trees can be found all over Mauritius, in hotel gardens, by the side of the road or in forests. Their welcome shade has made the Banyan Tree an important gathering place. A Banyan Tree provides a shady playground for kids, a community centre for villagers, and a sitting and resting place for travellers. Known in Hindu mythology as ‘the wish-fulfilling tree’, banyans represent eternal life. They are frequently found planted around temples. Buddha is believed to have achieved enlightenment while meditating under a Banyan tree.

Banyan wood is hard, and durable in water. Although considered to be of little value, it is used for furniture and house building. The wood from the aerial roots is stronger and is used as poles and for cart yokes. Fibre from the bark is used for making paper and ropes. The figs can be eaten fresh or dried.

Now you know a little more about what is a Banyan Tree, take a holiday to Mauritius and see how many you can see. Contact us today for your quote.



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