Barh or Banyan, a remarkable tree of India and tropical Africa sends
down from its branches great numbers of shoots, which take root and become new
trunks. A single tree thus may spread over a large area and look like a small
forest. This tree is considered to be sacred in some places in India. A
specimen in the Calcutta botanical garden is more than 100 years old. It has a
main trunk 13 feet (4 m) in diameter, 230 trunks as large as oak trees, and
more than 3,000 smaller ones. The largest banyan tree known is on the island
of Sri Lanka. It has 350 large trunks and over 3,000 small ones. The banyan
often grows to a height of over 21 meters and lives through many ages.
Perhaps the most amazing part of this extraordinary tree is its flower. What
we think of as the fruit is really a hollow, flower-bearing structure called a
cyconia. The inside it is lined with hundreds of male and female flowers. The
males carry pollen and the females bear seeds.
Various parts of this plant are considered medicinal. The bark of this
therapeutically valuable tree is attributed with tonic, astringent,cooling and
diuretic properties in Ayurveda.
A postal stamp was issued by the Indian Postal Department to commemorate