Indian Banyan Tree And Peepal Tree
Indian banyan tree and peepal tree are sacred trees of Hindus and Buddhists in India and other Asian countries. Peepal trees are also known as the sacred figs, bodhi trees or pipal trees.
Read all about Indian banyan trees and peepal trees including facts regarding their lifespan and other features. You can also see pictures of the sacred figs here, which should help you to identify both the trees.
Banyan trees usually refer to the Indian banyan trees which has the scientific name Ficus benghalensis. They are very large evergreen trees, in fact the largest in the world in terms of circumference, and they are found commonly in the Indian sub continent. They have strong aerial roots which turn woody as they grow up. In India these trees are planted near roads as large shading trees which can give shelter to numerous birds as well as the tired travelers. The Indian Banyan trees are considered very sacred in Hinduism.
Apparently, the leaves and other parts of sacred figs are used in many traditional medicines too, although honestly I am not very well aware about the exact uses of the Indian banyan trees and peepal trees in medicines. If at any time, I could gather more information on the use of banyan trees and peepal trees with regards to medicine and such, I will add them to the article.
Peepal tree or pipal tree is a very similar species with the scientific name Ficus religiosa. This is also a tropical tree which is evergreen, and it grows very large and woody in time and it is considered very sacred too. Peepall trees are also very large trees which can be grown as shading trees.
Why do I mention the Indian Banyan tree and the Peepal tree together?
Both Indian banyan trees and the peepal trees are very similar species, in fact different varieties with in the fig trees, with much similarity in appearance and other features. The major noticeable difference being in the appearance of leaves. Even though the roots of peepal trees also grow deep and large and woody in time, they are not aerial.
The most important thing to be known about the Indian banyan trees and the peepal trees is that both the trees are considered very sacred by Hindus and Buddhists and they are often planted together in the temple surroundings.
The picture in the introduction module is downloaded from Wikimedia Commons Image, which shows a Peepal tree in the front area and an Indian banyan tree in the background.
Cultural Significance of Indian Banyan Trees And Peepal Trees
As I mentioned above, Indian banyan trees and peepal trees are considered very sacred trees by both Hindus and Buddhists. In Hindu legends, there have been mentions about sages who go into 'tapas' or deep mediations for years, under these trees. It is also believed that, Buddha got enlightenment while he was praying under a peepal tree, and so it is also called as 'Bodhi' tree. Actually not every peepal tree is supposed to be called as a Bodhi tree, a peepal tree can be called so only if its origin can be traced back to that of the original Bodhi tree under which Buddha got the enlightenment.
All these beliefs might be due to the fact that, these large trees would have provided the best environment for prayers and meditation for even sages and saints, since they are the best trees that can provide shades. This can also be related with a belief which says that your mind will be the most clear and you can think without any stress if you meditate or even spend some time near these trees. Another fact that supports this theory is that the leaves of these trees can freshen the polluted air, and since these are very large trees, the air surrounding the trees will be the most fresh, always, which in turn can help people improve their concentration and clear the negative thoughts, thus bringing positive energy to the mind and body.
In many parts of rural India, it is still a tradition to gather under a banyan tree or peepal tree when there are issues to be discussed and decisions to be made. In many places, especially in temples, a raised floor is built around these giant trees, where people can sit, take rest or even sleep. There are many stories from history, where people describe about using banyan trees and peepal trees as shelters.
Indian Banyan tree is the National tree of India.
The above picture from Wikimedia Commons Image shows monks praying near the peepal tree or Bodhi tree.
How large is an Indian banyan tree? The growth, size and life expectancy of Indian banyan tree
It is believed that the largest banyan tree in the world is located in the Botanic garden in Kolkata, India. This is known as the Great Indian Banyan tree which is more than 250 years old and it covers an area of about 4 acres. In fact the tree was hit by a lightning in1925 which resulted in the splitting of the main trunk. However, the tree still continues to grow even though it looks like individual trees. The tree covers about a circumference of half a kilometer and it has about 3300 aerial roots.
The average life span of an Indian banyan tree is thought to be more than 1000 years, although no valid records of this can be cited. According to the studies, these trees may live up to even 2000 years.
The banyan trees usually reach a height of about 30 meters, however in terms of circumference, an almost grown tree can cover an area of about 1 acre.
The trees have flowers and fruits, but these are not edible. The tree can be either planted from a new plant, a branch or its seeds. The tree can propagate naturally from its seeds, and the seeds can germinate on even muddy walls, structures, other buildings and also on the wood of other trees. However, for the young plants to grow properly, either the seeds have to germinate where there is enough space for the roots to grow, or someone has to replant it in well drained and prepared soil. The main thing that one need to keep in mind while planting an Indian banyan tree is that the tree will grow very large in years and hence there should be enough space for the spreading of large tree branches and also the aerial roots which grow very deep and long in the soil.
The above image from Wikimedia Commons Image is that of the Great Indian Banyan tree, which looks like individual trees. This is actually a single tree.
Have you ever seen an Indian Banyan tree?
More Facts About Peepal Trees
The peepal trees are sometimes referred to as pipal trees, pippal trees or pippala trees and they can grow up to a height of 98 feet, with the main trunk diameter reaching up to 3 metres.
The oldest peepal tree in earth is planted in 289 BCE and it is currently located in Sri Lanka. This is the oldest flowering plant in the world and it is planted in Sri Lanka using a branch of the Bodhi tree, where Buddha is believed to be enlightened, brought from India in 289 BCE.
The natural propagation of the trees happen through the seeds, however, just like the case of the Indian banyan trees, they need enough space to grow up. The new plants grown from the seeds can be replanted or the cutting of a branch can be used to plant this tree.
Pictures of peepal tree
In the above pictures from Wikimedia Commons Image, the first image shows the leaves in a peepal tree and the second image shows its trunk.
The Indian Banyan trees and the peepal trees produce small green berries which turn orange or red in color as they ripen, and these fruits are known as figs but they are not edible.
There is a myth that says young people should never plant these sacred trees since this can reduce the lifespan of those who plant them.
Have you ever seen a pippal tree?
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