Fairy Tale Trees

January 29, 2010 § 9 Comments

There are amazing and wonderful pictures (elsewhere) of the banyan tree. Still and all, to be slogging nonchalantly around the southern streets and suddenly see these arbory monoliths, well, some of us slip immediately into a mythical world, a fantasy of living stuff that makes one go right up and touch tthe tree, it doesn’t flinch and fortunately doesn’t mind yet oddly when photographing them (as amateur), they don’t translate. It would take time, methinks, to circle the tree and just keep shooting and shooting with a delicate smart camera. But then, the photographer is completely distracted to see an avenue of these mighty wood structures, and boom, here comes the plot of a fairy tale again.  Perhaps to sit amongst its roots while writing…! 

These don’t grow in Missouri, oh no, they prefer consistently warmer climes who won’t trick them with the occasional icy wind or some errant blast of strangled strange weather.


So I had to learn a little about them, and share a few things remarkable enough to be remembered and repeated.  You never know when you might need to wax a wee bit knowledgeable about the mighty banyan. 

My thanks and a shoutout to the quirky-not-100-percent-right-on Wikipedia for the following slight info:
“The seeds of banyans are dispersed by fruit-eating birds. The seeds germinate and send down roots towards the ground, and may envelope part of the host tree or building structure with their roots, giving them the casual name of “strangler fig.” Older banyan trees are characterized by their aerial prop roots which grow into thick woody trunks which, with age, can become indistinguishable from the main trunk. Old trees can spread out laterally using these prop roots to cover a wide area.

The largest such tree is now found in Kolkata in India.
Another famous banyan tree was planted in 1873 in Lahaina’s Courthouse Square in
Hawai’i, and has now grown to cover two-thirds of an acre.

Like other Fig species (which includes the common edible fig Ficus carica), banyans have unique fruit structures and are dependent on fig wasps for reproduction.

Buddha is believed to have achieved enlightenment in Bodhgaya in India while meditating under a banyan tree of the species Sacred Fig. The tree is known as Bodhi Tree.
The first banyan tree in the U.S. was planted by Thomas Alva Edison in
Fort Myers, Florida. The tree, originally only 4 feet (1.2 m) tall, now covers 400 feet (120 m).”

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§ 9 Responses to Fairy Tale Trees

  • Bellezza says:

    I love banyan trees. The first time I ever saw one I was in Florida, and I was amazed by the intricate beauty. It reminded me, in a way, of the baobob trees which the Little Prince finds. Although I’ve never seen one of those. Trees hold a special place in my heart. I love all of them: the pine, in a forest, as well as the mighty oak so prevalent in Illinois. I liked your thoughts on the banyan.

  • jeanie says:

    Now those are some SERIOUS big trees. I don’t kow that I’ve ever seen one, but I’d certainly love to. I’m glad you shared the wiki facts — I didn’t know any of this. I especially loved that the Bodhi tree was a banyan!

    This is why I love coming here – I so very often learn something new!

  • Nora says:

    Would be much cooler if we had these in Missouri. Much.

  • seachanges says:

    your pictures and descriptions are amazing, as usual!

  • shoreacres says:

    I was so curious – WHY did Thomas Alva Edison plant the first banyan?

    As it turns out, he was given the tree by Harvey Firestone, of the rubber people. Edison was interested in it as an inventor, especially for its possible use as rubber and filament.

    It’s six degrees of tree separation! I traveled among the Firestone rubber plantations in Liberia, so I’m connected through them to your Florida Banyan! I just love this stuff!

    • oh says:

      that wiley Edison – everything with a purpose!

      but walking among the rubber plantations in Liberia? there’s something that doesn’t come up every day! impactful. (you know I’m going to ask (gently) that you write about Africa at some point…) I am huge fan of Dinesen and the Africa she wrote about… some locations just speak to us, right, while others, even though exotic, don’t?

  • qugrainne says:

    And I am connected through Bali, where I saw the mother of all banyan trees in the monkey forest. It was HUGE with monkeys all over it. It was growing half way down in a river valley so the root thingys were dripping a long way down.
    They are sacred in Bali, and are usually wrapped in a black and white fabric “skirt” for decorative detail.

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