Ficus benghalensis

Ficus benghalensis
An Indian banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) in front of the Edison museum in Fort Myers, Florida
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Moraceae
Genus: Ficus
Subgenus: Urostigma
Species: F. benghalensis
Binomial name
Ficus benghalensis
L. 1753
  • Ficus banyana Oken
  • Ficus benghalensis var. krishnae (C.DC.) Corner
  • Ficus chauvieri G.Nicholson
  • Ficus cotoneifolia Vahl
  • Ficus cotonifolia Stokes
  • Ficus crassinervia Kunth & C.D.Bouché
  • Ficus karet Baill.
  • Ficus krishnae C.DC.
  • Ficus lancifolia Moench
  • Ficus lasiophylla Link )
  • Ficus procera Salisb.
  • Ficus pubescens B.Heyne ex Roth
  • Ficus umbrosa Salisb.
  • Perula benghalensis Raf.
  • Urostigma benghalense (L.) Gasp.
  • Urostigma crassirameum Miq.)
  • Urostigma procerum Miq.
  • Urostigma pseudorubrum Miq.
  • Urostigma rubescens Miq.
  • Urostigma sundaicum Miq.
  • Urostigma tjiela Miq.

Ficus benghalensis, with the common name Indian banyan,[2] is a tree which is native to the Indian Subcontinent. Specimens in India are among the largest trees in the world by canopy coverage.


Ficus benghalensis produces propagating roots which grow downwards as aerial roots. Once these roots reach the ground they grow into woody trunks.

The figs produced by the tree are eaten by birds such as the Indian myna. Fig seeds that pass through the digestive system of birds are more likely to germinate and sprout earlier.[3]

Banyan fruit at Indira Gandhi Zoo park, Visakhapatnam

Cultural significance

Ficus benghalensis is the national tree of the Republic of India.[4]

The tree is considered sacred in India,[5] and temples are often built beneath. Due to the large size of the tree's canopy it provides useful shade in hot climates.

In Theravada Buddhism, this tree is said to have been used as the tree for achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi by the twenty seventh Lord Buddha called "Kassapa - කස්සප". The sacred plant is known as "Nuga - නුග" or "Maha nuga - මහ නුග" in Sri Lanka.[6]

Notable specimens

The giant banyan trees of India are the largest trees in the world by canopy coverage. One individual specimen, Thimmamma Marrimanu, in Andhra Pradesh, covers 19,107 m2 (4.721 acres) and is the largest single tree by two-dimensional canopy coverage area.[7] This tree is also the world's largest known tree by perimeter length with a perimeter of 846 m (2,776 ft).

Nearchus, an admiral of Alexander the Great, described a large specimen on the banks of the Narmada River. The tree's canopy was so extensive it sheltered 7000 men. It was later described by James Forbes (1749–1819) in his Oriental Memoirs (1813–1815) as nearly 610 m (2,000 ft) in circumference with over 3000 trunks.[8]

Other notable specimens include The Great Banyan in the Indian Botanic Garden and Dodda Alada Mara in Karnataka.

A Ficus benghalensis tree in Coral Gables, FL
A banyan tree near the chopdem fish market in Morjim, Goa, India

See also


  1. The Plant List, Ficus benghalensis Linnaeus
  2. "Ficus benghalensis L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  3. Midya, S.; Brahmachary, R. L. (1991) "The Effect of Birds Upon Germination of Banyan (Ficus bengalensis) Seeds". Journal of Tropical Ecology. 7(4):537-538.
  4. "National Tree". Govt. of India Official website.
  5. Simoons, F.J. (1998). Plants of Life, Plants of Death. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 9780299159047.
  7. Bar-Ness, YD (March 2013). "Giant Banyans - The World's Largest Trees?". GEO (89).
  8.  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fig". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Further reading

Dhanya, B. (Jun 2013). "Does litterfall from native trees support rainfed agriculture? Analysis of Ficus trees in agroforestry systems of southern dry agroclimatic zone of Karnataka, southern India". Journal of Forestry Research. 24 (2): 333–338. doi:10.1007/s11676-013-0357-6. 

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ficus benghalensis.
Wikispecies has information related to: Ficus benghalensis
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/7/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.