Also known as banyan fig or Indian banyan, the banyan tree is an unusually shaped tree that belongs to the family of mulberry. The botanical name of banyan tree is Ficus benghalensis. This tree does belong to the genus Ficus that comprises other species, like F. macrocarpa, F. pertusa, F. citrifolia, F. elastic, etc. Banyan tree acquires a height of 100 feet or 30 meters and spreads laterally open-endedly. The branches of this tree give rise to aerial roots that again take roots for becoming new trunks when they touch the soil. At times, a banyan tree assumes the look of a dense thicket due to the tangling of trunks and roots.
Uses of a Banyan Tree
A banyan tree holds huge importance among Hindus as they worship this tree in India. According to Hindu mythology, the banyan tree fulfils every wish and grants materials, and so, it is also called 'kalpavriksha.' People hang makeshift swings from its branches, and so it happens to be hugely popular with children too. The chief parts of a banyan tree that we use are leaves, buds, roots, bark, and milk.
How Do We Cultivate a Banyan Tree?
The banyan tree happens to be a native to countries, like India and Pakistan, and it is closely incorporated in the culture and mythology of India, and it has continued to remain so from ancient times. A banyan tree is an evergreen plant which grows in the subtropical and tropical climate and interestingly, it doesn't require any specific kind of soil for its growth. Today, this tree is grown all across the world besides India, like Africa, the Caribbean, and South America.
How Long Does a Banyan Tree Take for Growing?
A banyan tree grows based on many factors, such as pruning, environmental conditions, availability of water, etc. Its branches take lots of time for producing the plant's root. This plant takes nearly one year for growing. So, it can be said that it takes nearly two years for growing bonsai. The seeds of bonsai germinate in the crevices and cracks of the host tree and at times, on various other structures, such as bridges and buildings.
Banyan is considered the national tree of India. Its leaves are leathery, elliptical, glossy, and large in shape. Some banyan trees can become nearly 100 feet tall and spread to many acres. The leaves of this tree can reach anywhere from five to ten inches in size. These trees can live for 200 years and at times, even for 300 years.
Some Vital Facts about Banyan Trees
The banyan is considered one of above 750 classes of fig trees and every one of them is pollinated by its species of small wasps which breed only within their partner trees' figs.
A banyan is considered the strangler fig, and it grows from seeds which land on a different tree. The roots that they send down end up smothering their hosts and grow into branch-supporting and stout pillars that look like novice tree trunks.
The banyans are acknowledged as the biggest trees in the world regarding the area that they cover. The largest one that is still alive in Andhra Pradesh covers 4.7 acres or 1.9 hectares and is capable of sheltering 20,000 individuals.
Banyan is an ecological linchpin, and it creates huge crops of figs that sustain numerous species of fruit bats, birds, primates besides other creatures that disperse the seeds of countless other plant species.
The earlier Europeans who encountered banyan trees happened to be Alexander the Great who came to India during 326 BCE. According to the notes that he took to Greece back informed Theophrastus who was the creator of modern Botany and finally, inspired John Milton, the seventeenth-century English poet to mention in "Paradise Lost" where Adam and Eve stitched the very first cloth from the leaves of the banyan tree.
For many thousands of years, individuals use banyans as a source of different medicines. Even today in a country like Nepal, individuals use banyan roots, bark, and leaves for treating above 20 problems.
According to the Hindus, the banyan tree present at Jyotisar is acknowledged as Lord Krishna who stood underneath while he delivered the lesson of the Holy Bhagavad Gita.
Hindu texts that were written in above 2500 years ago mentioned a planetary "world tree" which is a banyan tree. It grew upside-down having its roots pointed towards the heavens. Its branches and trunk did stretch to the Earth for bringing forth blessings to humanity.
At the time when India was struggling to get independence from Britain, the British killed numerous rebels by hanging them from banyan trees, and when India became India became independent, then they made the banyan the national tree of India.
The banyans of Hawaii aren't native. Individuals who had planted them comprise Richard Nixon, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Louis Armstrong, and Amelia Earhart.
All across the globe, the banyans along with various other species of fig, have entrenched themselves in different diverse cultures due to some astonishing biology as well as an eighty-million-year-old relationship that survive with their fertilizing wasps.
Benefits of a Banyan Tree
Some remarkable benefits of a banyan tree for our health are as follows:
A banyan tree treats diarrhoea – People suffering from diarrhoea can take small budding leaves from the banyan tree to soak them in water. It forms a sturdy astringent agent which is excellent to heal gas, diarrhoea, irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, and dysentery.
Prevents gum disease and tooth decay – When you take aerial roots of a banyan tree and chew them, then they would prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bleeding gums. These roots work as a natural toothpaste besides helping bad breath. The aerial roots also make our teeth stronger. These roots have astringent and anti-bacterial properties that turn effectual against many oral health problems.
Improves immunity – Every person who has strong immunity leads a healthy life. Immunity helps people fight against various diseases. Additionally, it also shields people in other ways. The banyan tree's bark is an excellent immune-boosting agent.
Stops inflammation – Joint pain and arthritis are linked with joints' inflammation. It isn't only painful but does also limit people's daily movements. The banyan leaves' sap has anti-inflammatory features for fighting against some conditions, such as arthritis.
Treats infections of the vagina – Women suffer from vaginal infections because of the shortage of proper hygienic measures, and it happens as their vagina remains moist. In this condition, the leaves and bark of the banyan tree can treat infections of the vagina well. You can crush some dried leaves of banyan for making a tablespoon of powder. This powder should be boiled in one litre of water to let the water become half of the actual water. After you have cooled this infusion, you can apply it to your affected part.
A banyan tree is commonly grown in the form of epiphytes when it begins its life. However, after that, with the growth of this tree, it starts sending down many aerial roots that reach the ground. With passing time, they turn vigorous and thicker. The job of these roots is to provide nutrients to the tree from the soil. Due to this, the banyan tree can grow faster compared to the host tree. Most frequently, this plant is planted all through India's forest tract. The fruits of the banyan trees are spongy, round and they are red, and the leaves of this tree are oval, thick, hard, and 4 to 5 inches long.
Q1. What Should We Keep in Mind While Growing a Banyan Tree?
Ans. On average, the banyan trees have higher moisture requirements, but when these trees become established, they become drought tolerant. The banyan trees enjoy the sun for partial shading too. However, frost can damage a banyan tree easily, and so, these trees are grown in a warmer climate. To grow a banyan tree, you need lots of space because a mature tree becomes very large. Hence, you shouldn't plant this tree near a foundation, street, driveway, and your home.
Q2. How Does a Banyan Tree Help in Lowering Cholesterol?
Ans. There are presently two kinds of cholesterol in the human body; the 'bad' and 'good'. The banyan tree's bark works fine for sinking the level of bad cholesterol but keep the level of good cholesterol impressive.
Q3. How is a Banyan Tree Helpful in Treating Diabetes?
Ans. Diabetes is considered the common lifestyle problem of people of modern times. So, for controlling this problem, you need to make an infusion of the banyan tree's roots for treating the levels of high blood sugar.
Q4. Why Do People Use Banyan Tree Leaves for Skincare?
Ans. When people prepare the extract from the leaves of a banyan tree, then it leaves a cool impact on their skin. Additionally, the extract from these leaves prevents skin allergies while being utilized in the form of a topical formulation alongside aloe gel. Again, when you mix it with milk, then it turns helpful for relieving rashes and acne.