noun, plural: banyans
(botany) A tree of the same genus as the common fig, and called the Indian fig tree (Ficus benghalensis), whose branches send shoots to the ground, which take root and become additional trunks, until it may be the tree covers some acres of ground and is able to shelter thousands of men
Banyans are fig trees, especially the Indian fig tree (Ficus benghalensis), of the mulberry family (Moraceae). They are native to the Indian Subcontinent and are regarded as the national tree of the Republic of India.
Banyans are hemiepiphyte. They usually grow on another plant particularly at the canopy when the bird dispersed the fig seed and germinate at the top of the tree. The seed germinating in a crack or crevice of the host tree it will send its roots down to the ground. Soon the roots grow into the soil and become thick resulting into additional trunk of the fig tree.
Banyans used to specifically refer to the species, Ficus benghalensis. Soon, the name has been generalized to include all figs that have a common life cycle.1
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Rosales
- Family: Moraceae
- Tribe: Ficeae
- Genus: Ficus
Other common name(s):
1 Note the use of “Banyan” versus “banyan” in Athreya, Vidya R. (July 1997). “Nature Watch: Trees with a Difference: The Strangler Figs”. Resonance. Indian Academy of Sciences, Bengaluru. 2 (7): 67-74.; also “Aerial-Rooting Banyan Trees”. Natural History Guide To American Samoa. University of Washington.