Go to content Go to menu
 


BANYAN TREE

2020-02-02
BANYAN TREE


A banyan, also spelled "banian",[1] is a fig that begins its life as an epiphyte,[2] i.e. a plant that grows on another plant, when its seed germinates in a crack or crevice of a host tree or edifice. "Banyan" often specifically denominates Ficus benghalensis (the "Indian banyan"), which is the national tree of the Republic of India,[3] though the name has also been generalized to denominate all figs that share a common life cycle and used systematically in taxonomy to denominate the subgenus Urostigma. Like other fig species, banyans bear their fruit in the form of a structure called a "syconium". The syconium of Ficus species supply shelter and food for fig wasps and the trees depend on the fig wasps for pollination. Frugivore birds disperse the seeds of banyans. The seeds are small, and because most banyans grow in woodlands, a seedling that germinates on the ground is unlikely to survive. However, many seeds fall on the branches and stems of other trees or on human edifices, and when they germinate they grow roots down toward the ground and consequently may envelop part of the host tree or edifice. For this reason banyans bear the colloquial name "strangler fig". A number of tropical banyan species that compete for sunlight, especially of the genus Ficus, exhibit this strangling habit.[5][6][page needed][7] The leaves of the banyan tree are large, leathery, glossy, green, and elliptical. Like most figs, the leaf bud is covered by two large scales. As the leaf develops the scales abscise. Young leaves have an attractive reddish tinge.[8] Older banyan trees are characterized by aerial prop roots that mature into thick, woody trunks, which can become indistinguishable from the primary trunk with age. Old trees can spread laterally by using these prop roots to grow over a wide area. In some species, the prop roots develop over a considerable area that resembles a grove of trees, with every trunk connected directly or indirectly to the primary trunk. The topology of this massive root system inspired the name of the hierarchical computer network operating system "Banyan VINES" The banyan tree is the national tree of India. It is also called Indian or Bengal fig. This tree is considered sacred in India and can be seen near a temple or religious center. It is a big tree and gives shade to travelers in very hot summer months. An old custom offers worship to this tree. In Hinduism, the leaf of the banyan tree is said to be the resting place for the god Krishna. In the Bhagavat Gita, Krishna said, "There is a banyan tree which has its roots upward and its branches down, and the Vedic hymns are its leaves. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas." (Bg 15.1) Here the material world is described as a tree whose roots are upwards and branches are below. We have experience of a tree whose roots are upward: if one stands on the bank of a river or any reservoir of water, he can see that the trees reflected in the water are upside down. The branches go downward and the roots upward. Similarly, this material world is a reflection of the spiritual world. The material world is but a shadow of reality. In the shadow there is no reality or substantiality, but from the shadow we can understand that there is substance and reality. The banyan tree is also considered sacred and is called vat vriksha (IAST vaṭa vṛkṣa, वट वृक्ष) in Sanskrit, in Telugu known as: మఱ్ఱి చెట్టు; marri chettu, in Kannada language known as: 'Alada mara' and in Tamil known as: 'ஆல மரம்' ; ala maram. The god Shiva as Dakshinamurthy is nearly always depicted sitting in silence under the banyan with rishis at his feet. It is thought of as perfectly symbolizing eternal life due to its seemingly unending expansion. In spoken Marathi, the tree is known as vad (वड), derived from the original Sanskrit word vaṭa for the tree. Married Marathi women observe a fast called Vat Savitri Vrat for the well-being and long life of their husband. Tying a thread around the banyan or vat tree is an important part of the ritual.[citation needed] In modern parlance in the Hindi language, it is known as "bargad"( बरगद), "vata vriksh"(वट वृक्ष), and "barh"(बड़). In Buddhism's Pali canon, the banyan (Pali: nigrodha)[11] is referenced numerous times.[12] Typical metaphors allude to the banyan's epiphytic nature, likening the banyan's supplanting of a host tree as comparable to the way sensual desire (kāma) overcomes humans.[13] The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees (林村許願樹) are banyan, and are a popular shrine in Hong Kong. They are located near the Tin Hau Temple in Lam Tsuen. In many stories of Philippine mythology, the banyan (locally known as balete or balite) is said to be home to a variety of spirits (diwata and engkanto) and demon-like creatures (among the Visayans, specifically, the dili ingon nato, meaning "those not like us"). Maligno (evil spirits, from Spanish for 'malign') associated with it include the kapre (a giant), duwende (dwarves), and the tikbalang (a creature whose top half is a horse and whose bottom half is human).[citation needed] Children at a young age are taught never to point at a fully mature banyan tree for fear of offending the spirits that dwell within them, most especially when they are new to the place. Filipinos always uttered a respectful word or two to the spirits in the banyan tree when they are near one, walking near or around it to avoid any harm. Nearly every Filipino believes that provoking the spirits in a banyan tree can cause one great harm, illness, misfortune, untold suffering, and death. In Guam, the Chamorro people believe in tales of taotaomona, duendes, and other spirits. Taotaomona are spirits of the ancient Chamorro that act as guardians to banyan trees.[14] In Sabah, formerly North Borneo, Nunuk Ragang or Red Banyan is traditionally considered to be the site of the longhouses, sheltering the 10 families (immigrants from Taiwan or Southern China) who were the ancestors of the present-day kadazan-Dusun population of 555,647 (2010 census). Thimmamma Marrimanu is a banyan tree in Anantapur, located circa 35 km from the town of Kadiri in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is present in the Indian Botanical Gardens and is more than 550 years old.[15] It is reported to be the world's biggest tree with a canopy of 19,107 m2. Its branches spread over 8 acres, hence it was recorded as the biggest tree in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1989.[citation needed] One of the largest trees, the Great Banyan is found in Kolkata, India. It is said to be more than 250 years old. Another such tree, Dodda Aalada Mara as in "Big Banyan Tree", is found in the outskirts of Bangalore, India; it has a spread of circa 2.5 acres.[16] One of the most famous banyan trees, Kabirvad was planted on an island in a river in Bharuch, Gujarat, India. Records show that Kabirvad is more than 300 years old. Another famous banyan tree was planted in Jaipur district of Rajasthan. Records show that it is more than 200 years old. The Iolani Palace banyans in Honolulu, Hawaii. In the 1880s Queen Kapiolani planted two banyan trees within the Iolani Palace grounds. These trees have since grown into large groupings of trees on the old historic palace grounds.[17] Maui, Hawaii has a banyan tree planted by William Owen Smith in 1873 in Lahaina's Courthouse Square. It has grown to cover two-thirds of an acre.[16] In rural parts of India, many villages and towns have a traffic circle and a community gathering place around a big banyan tree. At night, many people come to sit, relax, and chat around it. Usually, a small deity is placed and worshipped at its foot. Ta Prohm in the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia boasts giant banyans growing around and through its walls. Several banyans grow near downtown Hilo, Hawaii, United States. Some of them were planted by celebrities in the 20th century and form Banyan Drive. Banyans occur in areas of Australia such as the Daintree Rainforest in Tropical North Queensland. Well known is the Curtain Fig Tree on the Atherton Tablelands. Thomas A. Edison planted the first banyan tree in the continental United States in Fort Myers, Florida, in an attempt with Henry Ford to find a more cost-effective way to produce rubber for car tires. The tree, originally only 4 feet (1.2 m) tall, now covers one acre of the estate. One large banyan tree, Kalpabata, is inside the premises of Jagannath Temple in Puri. It is considered sacred by the devotees and is supposed to be more than 500 years old.[18] A large banyan tree lives in Cypress Gardens, at the Legoland theme park located in Winter Haven, Florida. It was planted in 1939 in a 5-gallon bucket. The banyan is part of the coat of arms of Indonesia. It is meant to symbolize the unity of Indonesia - one country with many far-flung roots. As a giant tree, it also symbolizes power. Soeharto used it as a logo for his party, the Golongan Karya (Golkar), taking advantage of the deeply rooted belief of his fellow-countrymen and women in the sacred (sakti) nature of the banyan. The Economist magazine features an opinion column covering topics pertaining to Asia named "Banyan".[20] In southern Vanuatu, the clearings under banyan trees are used as traditional meeting places. The quarterly newsletter of the British Friends of Vanuatu Society is named Nabanga, after the local word for banyan.[21] The Banyan Tree is a notoriously difficult room in the 1984 ZX Spectrum platform game Jet Set Willy.[22] The titular treehouse of The Huggabug Club is built into a banyan tree.