Banyan Tree (Ficus Benghalensis)
The banyan tree, well known all over India, is one of the most common trees found along many of our roads, near temples and shrines and on open ground near villages. The banyan's name in the English language needs an explanation. Originally the name seems to have been given by Europeans to a particular tree in the Persian Gulf, under which Banniya or Hindu members of the merchant class did business. From time immemorial. Poets and mystics of India have waxed eloquent in singing the praise of the banyan tree.
These trees are indigenous to the sub Himalayan forest and in some of the hill slopes of peninsular India. It is an enormous tree, 25 to 35 m high, sending down aerial roots from the branches which entre the ground and form trunk, thus extending the growth of the tree indefinitely. Birds and monkeys are very fond of the good flavor of its figs. The figs often contain many small insects.
There are some famous Banyan trees in the Royal Botanic Garden at Shibpur in Kolkata. There is a tree that has grown from a seed dropped on a Palmyra Palm in 1782. There was a large tree a few kilometer away from the Satara in south Maharashtra. In Chennai, a famous banyan tree is found in the gardens of the Theosophical Society in Adayar. In South India when a married woman becomes pregnant, the bangle ceremony is celebrated. The juice of the banyan roots is squeezed into her nose with a blessing that her progeny and family should grow like a banyan tree.