What is a Banyan Tree?

Shannon Kietzman

A banyan tree, native to India and part of the mulberry family, is an enormous tree with many uses and a vast history. Young plants put forth roots, which form secondary trunks to support the expansive limbs. These trunks send out more roots until they crowd out the host tree.

Banyan trees can be large and sprawling, with multiple secondary trunks.
Banyan trees can be large and sprawling, with multiple secondary trunks.

The leaves of the banyan tree are large, leathery, and used as animal fodder. The tree produces figs which are popular with birds and monkeys, and also produces flowers that attract wasps for pollination. Older trees can reach more than 200 meters (656 feet) in diameter, with a height of 30 meters (98 feet).

Roots ans sap of the banyan tree can be used to treat toothaches.
Roots ans sap of the banyan tree can be used to treat toothaches.

While native to India, banyan trees exist throughout South Asia. They are frequently planted near homes, temples, villages, and roadsides. In most villages, this type of tree provides a meeting place for the community. People gather in its shade to relax, discuss issues, and make decisions. In fact, the name banyan is derived from merchants called Banias, who rested under the trees to discuss their strategies. Alexander the Great is also said to have camped under a banyan tree that was large enough to shelter his army of 7,000 men.

Banyan tree sap can be used to treat bruises.
Banyan tree sap can be used to treat bruises.

Banyan trees have a variety of uses. They produce a special type of rubber, and their sticky milk is used in gardening. In the Nepal region, the milky sap is used for polishing copper and brass.

Banyan trees are native to India.
Banyan trees are native to India.

The wood and bark of the banyan tree are suitable for making paper, and the roots are often used to make ropes to secure wood bundles. The women in Nepal crush the tree's roots with a paste to create a hair and skin conditioner. This tree is also used to produce shellac, which is widely used as an adhesive and surface-finisher in the industrial world.

The banyan tree is also used for medicinal purposes. The sap treats external skin inflammations and bruising. The bark and seeds are used as a tonic to cool the body, as well as to treat patients with diabetes. The roots and sap are used to treat skin ulcers, dysentery, and toothaches. Twigs of the banyan tree are sold as toothpicks in India and Pakistan to promote dental health.

The banyan tree, considered sacred and representative of eternal life, is also a human symbol. In contemporary India, it is the national tree. Its linked roots and branches are sometimes used to symbolize the country's unity.

Banyan tree flowers attract wasps, which pollinate the blossoms.
Banyan tree flowers attract wasps, which pollinate the blossoms.

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Discussion Comments


I love banyan trees. I grew up living with them around. Wonderful.


I have two pictures in my bedroom that are black and whites of Banyan trees. They fascinate me! They look like such a welcoming and calming presence! I wish they grew where I live in the Pacific Northwest!


There is a reference in the bible, where I do not know, to a person wasting time sitting under a fig tree. The banyan is a celebrated tree also called a fig tree. There are several banyan tree groves in Florida which line streets. They are mysterious, large and I suspect, quite old. I am fascinated by the complex root configurations. How does one compute the age of a banyan tree?


Banyan (ficus benghalensis) extract helps hair growth.


Super. And now I want Banyan tree seeds for multiplication on my Kenyan farm.


Yes it is true that it can heal diseases. This was the discussion from our orientation last sunday.


Where would I find a banyan tree near Middletown, Ct. or in the vicinity? I have to water it for 43 days for spiritual reasons. Please help. Thank you.


i want to know about the uses of banyan tree in points.


how we can make oil from banyan roots?


it sounds like a very interesting tree.


I don't know the exact composition but it's very good for azoospermic and increases sperm in semen.


which trees' roots fall from top to bottom?


are the banyan leaves of any use during this season? they fall so frequently that leaves a carpet of leaves every few hours! GS Chowdhary


My brother worked for a landscaping company 20 years ago and brought home a little tree in a pot. I was drawn to this tree and asked if I could have it. That was 20 years ago. I planted it in 1996 at the first home I bought that God led me too.

I tonight just was told that the tree I was drawn to wasn't a rubber tree as I thought, but a Banyan tree. I planted him in 1996 when i bought this home. I would use bungee cords to intertwine the branches. I thought the time I spent with him was my own doing. Ha Ha. Well we both made a place together in this lifetime.

I would clean up the leaves that had fallen within the root system, thinking I want the fairies not to be hindered in getting inside to rest. Well I thought this before I knew I had a Banyan Tree. What joy I feel to have such a spiritual tree that I carried around for a short time before I planted him.

And the time I spent with the branches that came out. I need this positive energy. I am so happy. God loves me so much. My thoughts are in alignment when there is no logical meaning behind them. God loves me so much. I feel so privileged to be open to the nature of life. Cheryl F.


what is the composition of banyan tree milk?

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