What are Banyan trees?

The term “Banyan” is used to refer to several species of trees from the genus “ficus” (figs). The common trait that sets apart figs as Banyans is the ability to send down “aerial roots” from the main branches which in time grow into new trunks or merge with the main trunk creating a massive tangled bulk that can reach diameters up to 8 meters wide. The most common of these species is the Ficus benghalensis, called the Indian Banyan or Bengal Fig. The largest of these is found in India and has more than 2880 proproots that have formed new trunks!

Another fig species that is often referred to as “Banyans” is Ficus Macrophylla which goes by the common name Moreton Bay Fig. The images in this post are of some large Moreton Bay figs that I photographed in the city of Malaga in Spain. In the image above you can see some aerial roots that have grown from the underside of a large branch.

In the image above you can make out the shape of the leaves and fruit. The leaves are simple in shape and are dark green and smooth. The measure about 15-20 cm in length. The fruits are small "figs" but are not edible like some of the other members of the ficus genus. (ie ficus carica).

Another characteristic of the Moreton Bay Fig are large buttress roots that serve as additional support. These roots that protrude above the ground an extend quite a ways our from the base of the tree as you can see in the image above.

Another fig species that sends down aerial roots and can have a similar appearance is the Ficus Elastica or Rubber tree.

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