Peepal (Ficus religiosa)
The 'peepal' tree is one of the best known trees of India. It is planted in most villages of the country and is held in high esteem by the people. The Hindus and the Buddhists hold the tree in veneration. In popular folklore of India, the 'peepal' is considered as the female of the banyan. Religious texts refer to the 'peepal' tree as being found near temple shrines.
This tree reaches very large proportions and is in fact about, the large of our indigenous fig trees. In its younger stages, it is often epiphytic or may grow in cracks in walls. The 'peepal' does not have the aerial roots so typical of the banyan. Birds are rather fond of the peepal fruits. The peepal has a very long life compared to other common trees. It is said that Lord Buddha sat in meditation under this tree at Bodh Gaya. Hindus consider the peepal sacred, so to cut a tree or its branches is as wrong as ill-treating one of the sacred cows of the country. On the other hand, any Hindu who plants a peepal tree will be blessed by generations to come, who will enjoy the shade of its branches during the heat of the day.
Propagations of the peepal is very easy and it may be done by planting seeds or by cuttings. It is a good tree for avenues but should not be planted near buildings. The peepal grows wild in the forests of the lower slopes of the Himalayas from Punjab to Bengal in the east, Orissa and central India. It is planted and also grows wild in most other parts of India.