Great Banyan Tree – Howrah, India - Atlas Obscura

Great Banyan Tree

Howrah, India

A single tree's 2,800 aerial roots give the appearance of a complete forest. 

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The Great Banyan Tree is over 250 years old and covers about 14,500 square meters of land (3.5 acres) in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden near Kolkata (Calcutta), making it the widest tree in the world. Banyan is the tree native to India and is botanically it is known as Ficus benghalensis.

From a distance, the tree has the appearance of a forest, but what appear to be individual trees are actually aerial roots- around 3,600 of them.

After two cyclones in the 19th century that led to a fungal attack, the tree’s main 15.7-meter-wide (51-foot) trunk had to be removed. Fortunately, the “clonal colony” of 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. Currently, it is already over 450-meters.

There are other large banyan trees across India, including the Old Banyan in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, the Gigantic Banyan Tree in Ranthambore National Park, and the Big Banyan in Bangalore.