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These days banyan trees are usually found on the outskirts of a city or town, sometimes even along some highway stretches, a busy road and the edge of a forest. The rubber fig tree is also a very popular indoor plant and grows easily inside homes. Do you or someone you know keep one at home?
Fig trees outdoors attract numerous animals, insects and birds to its fruits and shade and therefore sometimes when you pass a fruit laden fig tree you will hear quite a lot of noise! The noise of very satisfied birds and animals we guess!
Visit a fig tree any time of the year and you will find different kinds of birds, fruit bats, monkeys and insects on the branches and numerous ripe fruits. People also seem to love the shade of figs (especially of the Pipal Tree). Some types of fig trees also have fruits which grow on their main trunks and branches. Have you come across any?
The bird and animal visitors at the fig trees also do it a huge service. When they eat the fig fruits they sometimes carry it to another place and drop the seeds after eating the pulpy part of the fruit – this helps the offspring of the fig tree get transported to and grow in new far away places.
You will sometimes come across another type of tree within the branches and trunk of a Banyan tree. This is because the seeds of the banyan tree (often carried by birds or other animals) sometimes land on other trees and the seed of the banyan then grows (over many many years of course!) by sending roots downwards and branches outwards and upwards. As they grow, their branches and trunk start to hug their host tree, sometimes even strangling it! Banyan trees, are therefore also known as ‘strangler figs’. If you come across a Banyan stranger fig tree, write to us with a description of the tree, or send us a sketch of it including any other interesting observations you make.
The Great Banyan Tree in Kolkata
There is a really, really old tree in a botanical garden in the city of Kolkata. This banyan tree keeps growing sending out branches and roots and covers an area the size of around six cricket fields! You could be fooled into thinking that this one tree is a forest. Do you know of any such banyan near your town, village or city?
Fig trees have figured in stories for centuries. Ask an elder person in your family or among your friends for one such story – about a Banyan or Pipal Tree. Send us your photographs, sketches or stories from your field diary to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win a book on Indian trees.