Species of fig tree (Ficus) that have spreading crowns and descending prop roots. They commence life as epiphytes; then descending anastomosing (see anastomosis) roots strangle the trunk of the host tree. The Buddha attained enlightenment beneath a banyan (F. religiosa). The famous banyan in Calcutta Botanic Garden, F. bengalensis, dates from 1782 and is more than 300 m in circumference.
Subjects: plant sciences and forestry — Hinduism.