Ficus benghalensis

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Ficus benghalensis
Banyantree.jpg
Ficus benghalensis in front of the Edison Museum in Fort Myers, Florida, United States
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Moraceae
Genus: Ficus
Subgenus: Urostigma
Species: Ficus benghalensis
Binomial name
Ficus benghalensis
L. 1753
Synonyms
  • Ficus banyana Oken
  • Ficus benghalensis var. krishnae (C. D. C.) Corner
  • Ficus chauvieri G. Nicholson
  • Ficus cotoneifolia Vahl
  • Ficus cotonifolia Stokes
  • Ficus crassinervia Kunth & C. D. Bouché
  • Ficus karet Baill.
  • Ficus krishnae C. D. C.
  • 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.[1]

Ficus benghalensis, colloquially denominated the "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.

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 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[edit]

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 fourth Lord Buddha called "Kassapa - කස්සප". The sacred plant is known as "Nuga - නුග" or "Maha nuga - මහ නුග" in Sri Lanka.[6][not in citation given]

Notable specimens[edit]

The giant banyans of India are the largest trees in the world by area of canopy coverage. The largest, known specimen of tree in the world in terms of the two dimensional area covered by its canopy is Thimmamma Marrimanu in Andhra Pradesh, India, which covers 19,107 m2 (4.721 acres).[7] This tree is also the largest, known specimen of tree in the world in terms of the length of its perimeter, which measures 846 m (2,776 ft).

Nearchus, an admiral of Alexander the Great, described a large specimen on the banks of the Narmada River in contemporary Bharuch, Gujarat, India; he may have described the specimen presently named "Kabirvad". The canopy of the specimen which Nearchus described was so extensive that it sheltered 7,000 men. James Forbes later described it in his Oriental Memoirs (1813-5) as almost 610 m (2,000 ft) in circumference and having more than 3,000 trunks.[8] Modernly the area of its canopy is circa 3 square kilometers.

Other notable Indian specimens include The Great Banyan in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden in Shibpur, Howrah, which has a canopy area of 18,918 m2 (4.675 acres) and is circa 250 years old, and Dodda Aladha Mara in Kettohalli, Karnataka, which has a canopy area of 12,000 m2 (3.0 acres) and is circa 400 years old.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Plant List, Ficus benghalensis Linnaeus.
  2. ^ "Ficus benghalensis L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 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. Archived from the original on 2010-04-18. 
  5. ^ Simoons, F.J. (1998). Plants of Life, Plants of Death. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 9780299159047. 
  6. ^ http://www.instituteofayurveda.org/plants/plants_detail.php?i=858&s=Family_name
  7. ^ Bar-Ness, YD (March 2013). ""Giant Banyans - The World's Largest Trees?"". GEO (89). 
  8. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg 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. 24 (2): 333–338. doi:10.1007/s11676-013-0357-6. 

External links[edit]