|A single tree’s 2,800 aerial roots give the appearance of a complete forest|
Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden near Kolkata (Calcutta), making it the widest tree in the world. From a distance, the tree has the appearance of a forest, but what appear to be individual trees are actually aerial roots, around 2,800 of them.
After the tree was struck by lightning in 1925 it became diseased, and the tree’s main 15.7-meter-wide (51-foot) trunk had to be removed. Fortunately, the tree itself remains healthy.
A 330-meter-long road was constructed around the tree so that visitors could drive around the circumference, but the Great Banyan continues to spread beyond, growing wider with each passing year.
Botanical classification Botanically known as Ficus benghalensis, and belonging to the family Moraceae, the tree is a native of India. The fruit is like a small fig but is not edible and is red when ripe.
History and descriptionThe Great Banyan tree is over 250 years old and in spread it is the largest known in India, perhaps in Asia. There is no clear history of the tree, but it is mentioned in some travel books of the nineteenth century. It was damaged by two great cyclones in 1884 and 1886, when some of its main branches were broken and exposed to the attack of a hard fungus. With its large number of aerial roots, The Great Banyan looks more like a forest than an individual tree. The tree now lives without its main trunk, which decayed and was removed in 1925. The circumference of the original trunk was 1.7 m and from the ground was 15.7 m. The area occupied by the tree is about 14500 square metres (about 1.5 hectares or 4 acres). The present crown of the tree has a circumference of about 1 kilometre and the highest branch rises to about 25 m; it has at present 2880 aerial roots reaching down to the ground.
Great Banyan tree Botanical Garden Kolkata
|from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views.|