All About National Tree of India: The Majestic Banyan Tree (Ficus Benghalensis)

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India’s national tree, the Banyan tree (Ficus bengalensis), isn’t just any tree; it’s a symbol of India’s beauty and strength, holding a special place in the hearts of many people.

The Banyan tree is known for its huge branches that spread out wide, covering a lot of space. These branches often send down roots that grow into new trunks, making the tree look like a small forest all by itself!

In India, the Banyan tree is more than just a tree. It’s part of Hindu philosophy and is considered sacred. People believe that it represents eternal life because of its long lifespan and ability to grow and thrive for many years.

The Banyan tree also provides shade and shelter, making it a gathering place for people and animals alike. Under its cool, wide canopy, you can find villagers resting, children playing, and sometimes even small markets or gatherings.

All About National Tree of India The Majestic Banyan Tree (Ficus Benghalensis)

In Hindu mythology, the Banyan tree is connected to many stories and legends. It is often associated with wisdom and knowledge. In some stories, gods and sages are depicted meditating under its shade, seeking enlightenment.

So, the next time you see a Banyan tree, remember that it’s not just a tree. It’s a symbol of India’s spirit, offering shelter, wisdom, and a connection to ancient traditions. It stands tall and proud, just like the nation it represents.

Rooted in Myth and Legend

The Banyan tree is not just a symbol; it’s a living legend. Its branches root into new trees, creating a network that symbolizes immortality.

The tree’s longevity and unique characteristics make it a central figure in the myths and legends of India.

Associated with the fabled ‘Kalpa Vriksha’ or the ‘Tree of Wish Fulfillment,’ the Banyan embodies the essence of longevity and holds significant medicinal properties.

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Exploring the National Tree

Let’s take a closer look at the biological details of the National Tree of India:

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Division: Magnoliophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Order: Urticales
  • Family: Moraceae
  • Genus: Ficus
  • Species: Ficus benghalensis

Banyan Tree Scientific Name

The scientific name for the banyan tree is Ficus Benghalensis.

It is a member of the Moraceae family, which also includes figs and mulberries.

The name “Ficus” comes from the Latin word for “fig,” while the specific epithet “benghalensis” refers to the tree’s native range in Bengal, India.

Lifespan of Banyan Tree

The lifespan of a banyan tree is estimated to be between 200 and 500 years. However, there have been reports of some banyan trees living for over 1,000 years.

The banyan tree’s long lifespan can be attributed to its unique growth habit. Banyan trees are epiphytes, meaning they start life growing on other plants.

As the banyan tree grows, its aerial roots will reach down to the ground and anchor the tree. These aerial roots will eventually fuse together, forming a massive network of roots that supports the tree’s weight.

The banyan tree’s canopy can grow to cover an area of over an acre, and the tree can continue to grow as long as its roots have access to water and nutrients.

Here are some of the factors that can affect the lifespan of a banyan tree:

  • Environmental conditions: Banyan trees are native to tropical regions and prefer warm, humid climates. They are also tolerant of drought and can survive in poor soil conditions.
  • Human activity: Human activity, such as deforestation and logging, can threaten the lifespan of banyan trees. Banyan trees are also susceptible to disease and pests.
  • Competition from other plants: Banyan trees can compete with other plants for resources, such as water and sunlight. This competition can reduce the lifespan of a banyan tree.

Despite these threats, banyan trees are still a common sight in many parts of the world. They are an important part of the ecosystem and provide habitat for a variety of plants and animals.

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Cultural Significance of Banyan Tree

The Banyan tree holds profound importance in Hindu religion, where it is revered as “Ashwath Vriksha” (“I am Banyan tree among trees” – Bhagavad Gita). Its ever-expanding branches symbolize eternal life, making it a sacred presence in the cultural tapestry of India.

India’s National Tree

In the cultural heart of India, the Ficus Benghalensis, commonly known as the Banyan tree, proudly stands as the National Tree. Its presence extends beyond mere symbolism, intertwining with the spiritual and cultural fabric of the nation.

Sacred Shelter

The Banyan tree finds a special place in the landscapes of India, often becoming a cornerstone for the construction of temples. Its towering presence and expansive canopy offer not only shade but also a sense of sanctity in the scorching heat of the country.

Bodhi Tree in Buddhism

In the tapestry of Theravada Buddhism, the Ficus Benghalensis is woven into the narrative of enlightenment. According to belief, it served as the Bodhi tree under which the twenty-fourth Buddha, “Kassapa,” achieved enlightenment. Known as “Nuga” or “Maha Nuga” in Sri Lanka, this sacred plant echoes the spiritual journey of the Buddha.

Banyan Tree in Jainism

Beyond Buddhism, the Banyan tree holds significance in Jainism. Adhinath, the first Jain Tirthankara, attained Kewal Gyan, or spiritual enlightenment, under a Banyan Tree in Siddharth Forest, in present day Prayag.

In India’s rich cultural and spiritual landscape, the Ficus Benghalensis stands proudly, not just as a symbol of the nation but as a living testament to the deep connection between nature and faith.

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The Banyan’s Global Impact

  • Kalpavriksha Legacy: Often referred to as the ‘wish-fulfilling divine tree,‘ the Banyan’s influence extends far beyond India.
  • Symbol of Unity: Indonesia incorporates the Banyan tree in its coat of arms, symbolizing unity with roots reaching far and wide.
  • Global Recognition: Brian Aldiss’s novel Hothouse envisions a future Earth dominated by a colossal Banyan, showcasing the tree’s global recognition.

The Banyan’s Unique Characteristics

  • Aerial Prop Roots: Older Banyan trees are known for their unique aerial prop roots, growing into thick woody trunks.
  • Lateral Spread: These trees can cover vast areas, with prop roots aiding lateral expansion.
  • Record Holder: The largest Banyan tree, located in Kolkata, India, stands as a testament to the tree’s ability to spread and thrive.

Uses of Banyan Tree

The banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) is a large, sprawling tree with a wide range of uses. It is a culturally and economically important tree in many parts of the world.

Ecological uses

  • Habitat: The banyan tree’s large canopy provides habitat for a variety of plants and animals. The tree’s aerial roots can provide nesting sites for birds and bats.
  • Soil stabilization: The banyan tree’s roots help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion.
  • Water purification: The banyan tree’s roots can help to filter water and remove pollutants.

Economic uses

  • Timber: The banyan tree’s wood is used for a variety of purposes, including furniture, construction, and fuelwood.
  • Medicine: The leaves, bark, and roots of the banyan tree are used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.
  • Food: The fruits of the banyan tree are eaten by birds, bats, and other animals. The fruits can also be used to make jam and jelly.

Cultural uses

  • Religion: The banyan tree is considered sacred in many cultures. In Hinduism, the banyan tree is associated with the god Krishna. In Buddhism, the banyan tree is associated with enlightenment.
  • Symbolism: The banyan tree is a symbol of strength, longevity, and stability. It is also a symbol of wisdom and knowledge.
  • Aesthetics: The banyan tree is a beautiful and majestic tree that is often admired for its size and shape.

In addition to these uses, the banyan tree also provides shade and shelter, and it can be used as a windbreak. The tree is also a popular tourist attraction in many parts of the world.

Banyan Tree Leaf Uses

Banyan tree leaves have a variety of traditional and medicinal uses. They are used to treat a variety of ailments, including:

  • Skin diseases: Banyan tree leaf paste can be applied to the skin to treat conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and ringworm.
  • Respiratory problems: Banyan tree leaf decoction can be taken to treat coughs, colds, and asthma.
  • Digestive problems: Banyan tree leaf powder can be taken to treat diarrhea, dysentery, and indigestion.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Banyan tree leaf paste can be applied to the joints to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Diabetes: Banyan tree leaf powder can be taken to help control blood sugar levels.

Banyan tree leaves are a safe and effective way to treat a variety of ailments. However, it is important to talk to your doctor before using banyan tree leaves, as they can interact with some medications.

Nutritional Value and Chemical Constituents of Banyan Tree

Chemical constituents:

Plant partChemical constituents
LeafFlavonoids, terpenoids, phenols and terpenes
BarkFlavonoids, terpenoids, phenols, terpenes, quinone, furanocoumarin
RootSterols, amino acids, fatty acids
FruitsFatty acids

The seeds of the Banyan tree are packed with nutrients, offering a rich source of carbohydrates and proteins. They also contain lipids, fiber, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, with their nutritional value being approximately 130 calories per 100 grams.

These seeds are also rich in minerals, including sodium, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, chromium, copper, and phosphorus.

Biggest Banyan Tree in the World

  • The Great Banyan tree, a Ficus benghalensis, is situated in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden in Shibpur, Howrah, near Kolkata, India.
  • It attracts more visitors to the garden than the exotic plant collection from five continents.
  • The main trunk of the tree was struck by two cyclones and subsequently infected by fungi, leading to its removal in 1925 to preserve the rest of the tree.
  • A 330-meter (1,080 feet) road was constructed around the tree’s circumference, but the tree has continued to grow beyond this boundary.
  • In 1989, the Great Banyan was recognized as the largest tree specimen in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records.

List of National Trees and Scientific Names

Below is a table listing both the official and some unofficial national trees along with their scientific names. Take a look:

CountryCommon nameScientific name
AfghanistanMulberry (unofficial)Morus nigra
AlbaniaOliveOlea europaea
Antigua and BarbudaWhitewoodBucida buceras
AngolaBaobabAdansonia digitata
ArgentinaCeiboErythrina crista-galli
Red QuebrachoSchinopsis balansae
AustraliaGolden WattleAcacia pycnantha
BahamasLignum VitaeGuaiacum sanctum
BangladeshMango tree (Aam Gaachh)Mangifera indica
BelarusOak (unofficial)Quercus robur
BelizeHonduras MahoganySwietenia macrophylla
BhutanBhutan CypressCupressus cashmeriana
BrazilBrazilwoodCaesalpinia echinata
CambodiaPalmyra palmBorassus flabellifer
CanadaMapleAcer
ChileAraucariaAraucaria araucana
ColombiaQuindio wax palmCeroxylon quindiuense
Costa RicaGuanacasteEnterolobium cyclocarpum
CroatiaPedunculate oakQuercus robur
CubaCuban royal palmRoystonea regia
CyprusGolden oakQuercus alnifolia
Czech RepublicSmall-leaved Lime/Small-leaved LindenTilia cordata
DenmarkEuropean beechFagus sylvatica
Pedunculate oakQuercus robur
Dominican RepublicWest Indian MahoganySwietenia mahagoni
EcuadorCinchona pubescensCinchona pubescens
El SalvadorMaquilishuatTabebuia rosea
EnglandRoyal OakQuercus robur
EstoniaPedunculate OakQuercus robur
FinlandSilver BirchBetula pendula
GermanyOakQuercus
GreeceOliveOlea europaea
GuatemalaCeibaCeiba pentandra
HaitiRoyal palmRoystonea
IndiaIndian banyanFicus benghalensis
IndonesiaTeakTectona
IrelandSessile OakQuercus petraea
IranMediterranean cypressCupressus sempervirens
IsraelOliveOlea europaea
ItalyStrawberry treeArbutus unedo
JamaicaBlue MahoeTalipariti elatum
JapanJapanese cherry blossomPrunus serrulata
LaosFrangipaniPlumeria
LatviaOakQuercus robur
LebanonLebanon CedarCedrus libani
LithuaniaOakQuercus robur
MacedoniaMacedonian Pine (unofficial)Pinus peuce
MadagascarBaobabAdansonia
MalaysiaBorneo/Malacca teak, MerbauIntsia palembanica
MaldivesCoconut palmCocos nucifera
MaltaGħargħarTetraclinis articulata
MexicoAhuehueteTaxodium mucronatum
MoldovaOakQuercus robur
NepalRhododendronRhododendron
New ZealandSilver fernCyathea dealbata
NicaraguaLemonwoodCalycophyllum candidissimum
North KoreaPinePinus
PakistanDeodarCedrus deodara
PalestineOliveOlea europaea
PanamaPanama treeSterculia apetala
ParaguayLapachoHandroanthus impetiginosus
PeruCinchona officinalisCinchona
PhilippinesNarraPterocarpus indicus
PolandOakQuercus robur
PortugalCork oakQuercus suber
QatarChrist’s thorn jujubeZiziphus spina-christi
RomaniaOakQuercus robur
RussiaSiberian LarchLarix sibirica
Saudi ArabiaPhoenix palmPhoenix dactylifera
ScotlandScots PinePinus sylvestris
SenegalBaobabAdansonia digitata
SerbiaOak, Serbian SpruceQuercus, Picea omorika
SlovakiaSmall-leaved Lime/Small-leaved LindenTilia cordata
SloveniaTilia (Linden)Tilia
South AfricaReal yellowwoodPodocarpus latifolius
South KoreaHibiscus syriacus, Pinus densifloraHibiscus syriacus, “Pinus densiflora”
Sri LankaSri Lankan ironwoodMesua nagassarium
SwedenOrnäs BirchBetula pendula ‘Dalecarlica’
TanzaniaAfrican BlackwoodDalbergia melanoxylon
ThailandRatchaphruekCassia fistula
UkraineViburnum, WillowViburnum, Salix
United Arab EmiratesGhaf TreeProsopis cineraria
United KingdomRoyal OakQuercus robur
United StatesOakQuercus
UruguayÁrbol de ArtigasPeltophorum dubium
VietnamLotusNelumbo nucifera
VenezuelaAraguaneyTabebuia chrysantha
WalesSessile OakQuercus petraea
YemenDragon blood treeDracaena cinnabari

National Tree of India Name is Banyan Overview

KingdomPlantae
Name Banyan Tree
FamilyMoraceae
Adopted in1950
GenusFicus
OrderUrticales
Found inIndian Subcontinent 
TypeFigs
DimensionsHeight: 10-25 m; Spread: as far as 100 m
DivisionMagnoliophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
Found inNative to Indian Subcontinent
HabitatTerrestrial
Conservation StatusNot-threatened
Scientific NameFicus benghalensis

Conclusion

As we reflect on the Banyan tree, we see more than just a botanical marvel; it is a living legacy deeply woven into the fabric of India. From sacred rituals to village gatherings, its presence is timeless. Standing tall as the National Tree, it embodies the essence of the nation’s pride, strength, and unity.

Sources: pharmeasy, unacademy, adda247

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As a professional blogger and passionate educator, I am driven by a deep-seated desire to share knowledge and empower others. With years of experience in the field, I am committed to providing valuable insights and guidance to aspiring learners. My passion lies in helping individuals discover their potential and achieve their goals. I am also a firm believer in the power of motivation and strive to inspire others to pursue their dreams with unwavering determination.

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