The Great Banyan

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Coordinates: 22°33′39″N 88°17′12″E / 22.5608°N 88.2868°E / 22.5608; 88.2868

The Great Banyan tree as a whole.

The Great Banyan is a banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) located in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah, near Kolkata, India.[1] the great banyan tree draws more visitors to the garden than its collection of exotic plants from five continents. It became diseased after it was struck by lightning, so in 1925 the middle of the tree was excised to keep the remainder healthy; this has left it as a clonal colony, rather than a single tree. A 330 metre long road was built around its circumference, but the tree continues to spread beyond it.

The branches of the Banyan tree.

Botanical classification[edit]

Botanically known as Ficus benghalensis, and belonging to the family Moraceae, the tree is a native of India. The fruit is like a small fig but is not edible and is red when ripe.

History and description[edit]

The Great Banyan tree is over 250 years old, and its date of birth is doubtful. there is no clear history of the tree as to the time of planting etc. but it is mentioned in many travel books of the nineteenth century as a very spectacular element. It survived two great cyclones in 1864 and 1867, when some of its main branches were broken. With its large number of aerial roots, which grow from the branches and run vertically to the ground and looks like is has so many trunks, The Great Banyan looks more like a forest than an individual tree. The tree survives without its main trunk, which decayed and had to be removed in 1925. A monument has been erected to the dead trunk, but is hardly accessible to visitors, who only have access to the perimeter of the tree. The area occupied by the tree is about 18,918 square metres (about 1.5 hectares or 4 acres). The present crown of the tree has a circumference of 486 m. and the highest branch rises to 24.5 m; it has at present 3772 aerial roots reaching down to the ground as a prop root.


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