Ficus benghalensis

Ficus benghalensis L.

Common Names: Banyan Tree

Family: Moraceae

Habit: Ficus benghalensis grows as a large tree to 30 meters in height, a trunk to 150 cm in diameter.  Aerial roots form from the branches and become secondary trunks allowing the tree to grow outward from the center horizontally (in some cases to 200 m). The leaves are arranged alternately (clustered at branch tips), to 40 cm in length, ovate to elliptic with an entire margin, an acuminate leaf apex. Where the petiole attaches to the stem there is a prominent ring on the stem formed from the dehiscent apical sheath.  The apical sheath has a slight hook at its tip known as a “cats claw”. Vegetative material produces milky latex when broken.

The highly reduced incomplete, imperfect, actinomorphic, flowers are borne entirely within a structure known as a Synconium (fig) and are fertilized by wasps. It is monoecious. Staminate flowers have a perianth of 2-6 parts and 2 anthers.  The carpellate flowers have no perianth or stamens and a single carpel. The red berry-like “fruit” is sessile.

Habitat: Ficus benghalensis grows in Human Altered environments (yards and gardens).

Distribution: Ficus benghalensis is NOT native to the Lucayan Archipelago It has been planted in the northern island groupings.  It is native to India and Pakistan.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Ficus benghalensis is not known to be used medicinally in the Lucayan Archipelago.

Ficus benghalensis is used as an ornamental tree.

In Hindu mythology Ficus benghalensis is known as the Wish Fulfilling Tree and represents eternal life. It is often planted around temples.