Ficus benghalensis

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Ficus benghalensis
Banyantree.jpg
An Indian banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) in front of the Edison museum in Fort Myers, Florida
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Moraceae
Genus: Ficus
Species: F. benghalensis
Binomial name
Ficus benghalensis
L.
Synonyms

Ficus indica L.

Ficus benghalensis, commonly known as the Indian banyan, is a tree which is native to the Indian subcontinent. Specimens in India are among the largest trees in the world by canopy coverage.

Other names[edit]

Ficus benghalensis is also known as the 'Bengal fig' and 'Indian fig'. In Bengali language, it is known as bat (pronounced as bawt or bɒt). In Tamil, it is known as aalamaram (ஆலமரம்). In Telugu, it is known as marrichettu. Sanskrit names include nyagrodha and vata. In Kannada it is known as aalada mara.[1] In Malayalam it is known as aalmaram or Peraal and in Punjabi It is known as "bodha".

Ecology[edit]

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 such as the Indian Myna. Fig seeds that pass through the digestive system of birds are more likely to germinate and sprout earlier.[1]

Banyan fruit at Indira Gandhi Zoo park, Visakhapatnam

Cultural significance[edit]

Ficus bengalensis is the National tree of the Republic of India.[2]

The tree is considered sacred in India,[3] and temples are often built beneath. Due to the large size of the tree's canopy it provides useful shade in hot climates.

Notable specimens[edit]

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 square metres and is the largest single tree by two-dimensional canopy coverage area.[4] This tree is also the world's largest known tree by perimeter length with a perimeter of 846 meters.

Nearchus, an admiral of Alexander the Great, described a large speciment on the banks of the Narmada. 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 2000 ft. in circumference with over 3000 trunks.[5]

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[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "National Tree". Govt. of India Official website. 
  3. ^ Simoons, F.J. (1998). Plants of Life, Plants of Death. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 9780299159047. 
  4. ^ Bar-Ness, YD (March 2013). "Giant Banyans - The World's Largest Trees?". GEO (89). 
  5. ^  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fig". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Further Reading[edit]

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 (Harbin) 24 (2): 333-338. doi:10.1007/s11676-013-0357-6. 

External links[edit]