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Monday, January 3, 2011

The Amazing Banyon Tree

This is my Tommy, but as cute as he is he's not the reason for posting this picture. He just so happens to be standing in front of the most amazing tree ever....that I know of anyway. This is the Banyan tree, Ficus benghalensis, and this one was growing in the Marie Selby Botanical garden in Sarasota, Florida. This tree is in the Ficus family which includes the Strangler fig, another fascinating tree. But first, let's talk up this Banyan tree.

What is particularly astonishing about this tree is its never-ending desire to ensure its life continues. Each tree in the plant world starts the same, from an ordinary seed, growing into a sapling and then, if conditions are just right, a good sized tree. Eventually it will produce flowers which in turn give fruit or nuts from which the seeds come to start the process all over again. These seeds will grow into other trees if allowed to settle on fertile soil.

Now, the Banyan doesn't stop there. It does produce the flowers and fruit and seeds but it goes a step further. It will also send out air roots. Long thin strings will sprout out all over this tree. These air roots grow down from outstretched, virtually horizontal branches until they reach soil. There these strings will actually take root and start to grow thicker until they become bark covered, hard and straight just like the original trunk of the tree. The trunk of this tree, in essence, keeps getting wider as the air roots off the tree continue to reach for ground, reach it and then grow. The out stretched branches, getting extra support from all theses "extra" trunks, keep growing outward.

The tree just continues to expand outward with more trunks growing all around the original center trunk. To top it all off, Banyan trees grow darn quick too. I'm always going on about invasive vines being the killers of the plant kingdom but the Banyan comes pretty much a close second. The only thing that keeps this tree in check is its need for a warm climate in which to grow. otherwise, we'd be hacking away at these trees just for a space enough to grow vegetables and put up a house. YIKES!

The largest tree recorded resides somewhere in south Asia and is several acres wide and yes, it is only one tree. Now do you agree with my assessment that this is one heck of a fascinating tree?

3 comments:

  1. When I lived in West Palm Beach area I met this tree for the first time. It was like something fake out of a fairy tale! Truly Amazing!

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  2. Isn't it though? I'm fascinated every time I see one.

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  3. I am truly in awe over it...I saw one in Bermuda, and could not believe a tree could look more beautiful and exciting.

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