A banyan tree is originally a ‘fig tree’ that grows as an epiphyte. Belonging to the family of Moraceae, this plant is widely grown in 800 different species all around the world. In Ayurveda, the banyan tree is also known as Vata/Vada. The banyan tree comes in a variety of more than 2000 species. All the species of the Banyan Ficus is known to be grown during the olden days in the old world tropics. It is believed that the seeds of these trees are scattered by some fruit-eating birds on the ground. Because the majority of Banyan trees are found in forests, seeds that fall down after fertilization are difficult to germinate. However, if seeds fall on the branch of some other tree, the seeds will germinate, and the roots will be sent straight into the soil, the tree may engulf sections of the tree trunk or building structures, earning the banyan the nickname “Stranglers.” The banyan trees belong to the Moraceae family that are the quickest-growing evergreen plants and are mostly been found in dense rain and evergreen forests.
Scientific Classification of the Banyan Tree
The banyan tree belongs to the kingdom of Plantae. It comes under the subkingdom of Tracheobionta, and its superdivision is termed as Spermatophyta. The banyan tree’s division is known as Magnoliophyta, and the class is regarded as Magnoliopsida. Having its order name as Urticales, the banyan tree has a subclass named Hamamelidae. Finally, the genus of the banyan tree is Ficus, and it has a family of Moraceae.
Specifications of the Banyan Tree
The banyan tree can be found in a variety of ecosystems, ranging from plains to 1000 meters above sea level. India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan are among the most common places to find it. The banyan tree is commonly cultivated in the tropics. These trees are characterized as robust, drought-resistant, and frost-resistant.
Characteristics of the Bark of the Banyan Tree
The Banyan tree’s bark is 12 to 18 mm strong, grey in color with pale bluish-green or grey spots, slightly curved, and its girth fluctuates with the tree’s development. The existence of a continuous and oblique row of lenticels, most of which are circular and elevated, fissures and roughens the surface, whereas the 2/3 interior of the bark exhibit a fibroid break. The medical, socio-cultural, and ethnobotanical qualities of the banyan tree make it a popular choice. The tree serves as a home for a variety of animals and plants, making it one of the most significant natural ecosystems in the Gangetic flood plain and related environments. It’s also thought to be the best choice for a shade tree in a community garden. As a result, there is a large market for the transplantation of a banyan tree for large-scale plantation projects in various arid and semi-arid regions.
Planting and Propagation
The banyan tree’s seeds are disseminated by tiny songbirds that consume the figs and defecate the remaining seeds. Traditionally, the Banyan tree is an epiphyte that takes up residence in other mature trees. The radicle or eye cuttings are the most common ways to propagate the banyan tree. The plant is also cultivated in a small pot inside using the Bonsai technique.
Banyan Tree Root System
- The root system is part of the plant’s stalk that descends. The radicle of the banyan tree is the initial structure to emerge from the seed as it germinates. It grows longer to produce a primary taproot with lateral branches, forming the root system. It spreads out into huge, deep sections of the soil, effectively anchoring the plant.
- The banyan tree is primarily made up of aerial roots that maintain the large, hefty plant.
- A single root system beneath the soil is insufficient to nourish the large and hefty upright banyan tree.
- Prop roots emerge from the aerial sections of branches that strike the ground, thickening and strengthening with time.
- The banyan tree is a dioecious tree, and its underground roots are called Tap Roots.
Root Development of the Banyan Tree
The roots expand over the course of the plant’s life. They keep growing from the starting point, leading the cells to the meristematic region of the roots, and they get thicker as their tube-like bodies fill up with cells. The root cap of a banyan tree is a tiny clump of tight, dead, rigid cells found at the end of each root. The root cap is the most powerful portion of the root tip, and its duty is to drive the root deeper into the dirt road in pursuit of nutrient absorption. As a result, the root cap helps in the geotropic migration of the roots and accepts gravity’s influence.
What Do the Roots of these Banyan Tree Perform?
The roots of the banyan tree help the plant anchor to the soil. The banyan tree roots also take up the essential water and minerals from the plant and conduct them upwards towards the other parts of the tree. Roots perform particular physiological activities such as food preservation, digestion, uptake of atmospheric moisture, draining from the host plant, improved gaseous exchange, mechanical purposes such as floating (buoyancy), stronger anchoring, and ascending by undergoing structural transformation.
Parts of the Banyan Tree and Their Uses
The Banyan tree’s most useful elements include its bark, root strands, leaves, seeds, and milky fluid. Different portions of the tree have been discovered to have medicinal benefits as mentioned below:
- The leaves of the banyan tree are essential for treating ulcers, and the aerial roots of these plants aid in gonorrhea.
- The fruits and seeds of the banyan tree give a cooling effect and are used as an astringent. These seeds can help a lot in diarrhea, diabetes, and dysentery.
- Many diabetic patients are given the bark of the banyan tree to consume as it is proven to be effective in terms of ayurvedic properties.
- The fruit extract of the banyan tree possesses some anti-cancer properties.
- The stems of the banyan tree have some analgesic properties.
- The methanolic extracts of the branches and leaves of the banyan tree have many antioxidant properties.
- Due to the presence of flavonoids in the root, it has anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties that are useful in fighting many diseases.