name = Banyan

image_width = 240px
image_caption = Illustration of "Ficus benghalensis"
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Urticales
familia = Moraceae
genus = "Ficus"
subgenus = "(Urostigma)"
subgenus_authority =
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision = Many species, including:
*"F. aurea"
*"F. benghalensis"
*"F. citrifolia"
*" F. macrophylla"
*"F. microcarpa"
*"F. pertusa"
*"F. rubiginosa"
A banyan is a fig that starts its life as an epiphyte when its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices on a host tree (or on structures like buildings and bridges). "Banyan" often refers specifically to the species "Ficus benghalensis", though the term has been generalized to include all figs that share a unique life cycle, and systematically to refer to the subgenus "Urostigma". [Note usage of "Banyan" versus "banyan" in PDF| [ "Trees with a Difference: The Strangler Figs"] |61.0 KiB by Vidya R Athreya, "Nature Watch", July 1997; also [ "Aerial-rooting banyan trees"] ,] The seeds of banyans are dispersed by fruit-eating birds. The seeds germinate and send down roots towards the ground, and may envelope part of the host tree or building structure with their roots, giving them the casual name of "strangler fig". The "strangling" growth habit is found in a number of tropical forest species, particularly of the genus "Ficus", that compete for light. [Zhekun, Zhou & Michael G. Gilbert (2003) Flora of China (Moraceae) 5: 21-73. [] ] [Serventy, V. 1984. Australian Native Plants. Victoria: Reed Books.] [Light in the rainforest 1992 Tropical topics. Vol 1 No. 5 [] ] Any "Ficus" species showing this habit may be termed a strangler fig.

Older banyan trees are characterized by their aerial prop roots which grow into thick woody trunks which, with age, can become indistinguishable from the main trunk. Old trees can spread out laterally using these prop roots to cover a wide area. The largest such tree is now found in Kolkata in India. One of the most famous of banyan trees was planted in Kabirvad, Gujarat. Records show that Kabirvad is more than 300 years old. Another famous banyan tree was planted in 1873 in Lahaina's Courthouse Square in Hawai'i, and has now grown to cover two-thirds of an acre.

Like other Fig species (which includes the common edible fig "Ficus carica"), banyans have unique fruit structures and are dependent on fig wasps for reproduction. Banyan, Ficus benghalensis or the Indian Fig Tree is the National tree of India.cite web| url=| title=National Tree| publisher= Government of India| accessdate=2009-04-29]


The name was originally given to "F. benghalensis" and comes from India where early travellers observed that the shade of the tree was frequented by "banias" or Indian traders. [Yule, Henry, Sir. Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. New ed. edited by William Crooke, B.A. London: J. Murray, 1903.]

In the Gujarati language, banyan means "merchant", not "tree". The Portuguese picked up the word to refer specifically to Hindu merchants and passed it along to the English as early as 1599 with the same meaning. By 1634, English writers began to tell of the banyan tree, a tree under which Hindu merchants would conduct their business. The tree provided a shaded place for a village meeting or for merchants to sell their goods. Eventually banyan came to mean the tree itself.


The proper noun Banyan refers specifically to the species "F. benghalensis", which can grow into a giant tree covering several hectares. Over time, the name became generalized to all strangler figs. It appears that "banyan" is the more common term in Asia, Australia and Oceania, while "strangler fig" is more often used in the Americas and Africa.Fact|date=May 2007 There are many banyan species, including:
*"Ficus microcarpa", which is native from Sri Lanka through New Caledonia and is a significant invasive species elsewhere.
*The Central American Banyan ("Ficus pertusa") is native to Central America and northern South America, from southern Mexico south to Paraguay.
*The Shortleaf Fig ("Ficus citrifolia") is native to southern Florida, the Caribbean Islands, Central America and South America south to Paraguay. One theory is that the Portuguese name for "F. citrofolia", "Os Barbados", gave Barbados its name
*The Florida Strangler Fig ("Ficus aurea") is also native to southern Florida and the Caribbean Islands, and distinguished from the above by its coarser leaf venation.
*The Moreton Bay Fig ("Ficus macrophylla") and Port Jackson Fig ("Ficus rubiginosa") are other related species.

Ornamental Value

Due to the complex structure of the roots and extensive branching, the banyan is extensively used for creating Bonsai. Taiwan's oldest living bonsai is a 240-year-old banyan housed in Tainan.

In culture

;Religion and mythology
* In Hinduism, the banyan tree is considered sacred and is called "Ashwath Vriksha." God Siva 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.
* Also in Hindu culture, the banyan tree is also called kalpavriksha meaning 'wish fulfilling divine tree'. In modern parlance in the Hindi language, it is known as Bargad, Vatavriksh, and Barh.
*In many stories of Philippine Mythology, the banyan, (locally known as balite) is said to be home to a variety of spirits and demon-like creatures (among the Visayans, specifically, "dili ingon nato",meaning "things not like us"). Maligno (Mystical creatures) associated with it include the kapre (a giant), dwende (dwarves), and especially the tikbalang (a creature whose top half is a horse and whose bottom half is a human). [ [ Balete Tree ] ]
* In Guam, '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. [ [, Ghost stories: Taotaomona, duendes and other spirits inhabit Guam] ] ;Locations
* City of Vadodara in western India is named after Banyan Tree.
* Ta Prohm in the Angkor Wat temple complex of Cambodia is well known for the giant banyans that grow up, around and through its walls.
* Several banyans can be found near downtown Hilo, Hawaii. Some of them were planted by celebrities throughout the 20th century and form the Banyan Drive.
* Strangler figs also occur in areas of Australia such as the Daintree rainforest in Queensland's far north. Well known is the Curtain Fig Tree on the Atherton Tablelands.
* The first banyan tree in the U.S. was planted by Thomas Alva Edison in Fort Myers, Florida. It was given to Edison by Harvey Firestone after Firestone visited India in 1925 and was planted in the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. The tree, originally only convert|4|ft|m tall, now covers convert|400|ft|m.;Fiction
* Robinson Crusoe, in the eponymous 1719 novel by Daniel Defoe makes his home in a banyan tree.
* Brian Aldiss, in his novel "Hothouse", describes a future Earth where a single huge banyan covers half of the globe, because individual trees discover the ability to join together, as well as drop adventitious roots.
* On the Steely Dan album "Aja", the title track includes the lyrics: "Chinese music under banyan trees / Here at the dude ranch above the sea"
* In Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, he describes the giant tree-city of Revelwood being built out of a huge banyan with multiple trunks that occupies an entire valley.
* A banyan serves as an important metaphor the episode "The Swamp.";Other
* The banyan is part of the coat of arms of Indonesia. It is meant to symbolise the unity of Indonesia - one country with many far-flung roots.
* Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy personnel use the term "banyan" to mean a spell ashore for a BBQ on some deserted beach. "Banyan Rig" denotes the casual (and often traditionally tasteless) clothes worn for these events.
* The underground roots of a banyan species found in the Amazon are cut into 10 cm lengths, dried and smoked regularly to relieve pain. This practice originated in the Amazon. There are no visible side effects.Fact|date=May 2007


External links

* [ 360° panoramic photo of Banyan tree]
* [ Stranglers and Banyans] ,
* [ Plant Cultures: Banyan tree history and botany] ,

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Banyan — steht für: Banyan Feige oder Banyanbaum aus der Gattung Feigen (Ficus), fälschlich auch für weitere Arten der Untergattung Urostigma Banyan Company, eine US amerikanische Netzwerktechnik Firma, ab 1999 unter dem Namen „ePresence“ Banyan Vines,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Banyan — (Санкт Антон ам Арльберг,Австрия) Категория отеля: 4 звездочный отель Адрес: Dorfstraße 55, 6580 Санкт …   Каталог отелей

  • Banyan — Ban yan (b[a^]n yan or b[a^]n*y[a^]n ), n. [See {Banian}.] (Bot.) A tree of the same genus as the common fig, and called the Indian fig ({Ficus Indica}), whose branches send shoots to the ground, which take root and become additional trunks,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • banyan — Indian fig tree, 1630s, so called in reference to a tree on the Iranian coast of the Persian Gulf under which the Hindu merchants known as banians had built a pagoda. From Skt. vanija merchant …   Etymology dictionary

  • banyan — (also banian) ► NOUN ▪ an Indian fig tree, whose branches produce aerial roots which later become new trunks. ORIGIN originally applied by Europeans to a tree under which traders had built a pagoda: from Gujarati, trader …   English terms dictionary

  • banyan — [ban′yən] n. [so called in allusion to such a tree on the S Iranian coast at the E end of the Persian Gulf, under which the banians (see BANIAN2) had built a pagoda] a widespread, tropical fig tree (Ficus benghalensis) that is native to India:… …   English World dictionary

  • banyan — bengalinis fikusas statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Šilkmedinių šeimos dekoratyvinis, medieninis, pluoštinis, vaistinis augalas (Ficus benghalensis), paplitęs atogrąžų Azijoje. Turi narkotinių medžiagų. Naudojamas induizmo religinių apeigų… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • banyan — /ban yeuhn/, n. 1. Also called banyan tree. an East Indian fig tree, Ficus benghalensis, of the mulberry family, having branches that send out adventitious roots to the ground and sometimes cause the tree to spread over a wide area. 2. Also,… …   Universalium

  • banyan — Banian Ban ian (b[a^]n yan or b[a^]n*y[a^]n ; 277), n. [Skr. banij merchant. The tree was so named by the English, because used as a market place by the merchants.] 1. A Hindu trader, merchant, cashier, or money changer. [Written also {banyan}.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • banyan — [17] Banyan originally meant ‘Hindu trader’. It is an arabization of Gujarati vāniyān ‘traders’, which comes ultimately from Sanskrit vanija ‘merchant’ (the Portuguese version, banian, produced an alternative English spelling). When European… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

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