Photograph - Digital Capture, Watermark Not On Actual Print
Banyan tree along the Pipiwai trail to Waimoku Falls in the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii
A banyan (also banian) is a fig that starts its life as an epiphyte (a plant growing on another plant) when its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices on a host tree (or on structures like buildings and bridges). "Banyan" often refers specifically to the Indian banyan or Ficus benghalensis, the national tree of India, though the term has been generalized to include all figs that share a characteristic life cycle, and systematically to refer to the subgenus Urostigma.
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. The seeds of banyans are dispersed by fruit-eating birds. The seeds germinate and send down roots towards the ground, which may envelop part of the host tree or building structure, giving banyans the casual name of "strangler fig". The "strangling" growth habit is found in a number of tropical forest species, particularly of the genus Ficus, that compete for light. Any Ficus species showing this habit may be termed a strangler fig.
November 25th, 2011
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