The Banyan Tree, Lahaina
The Banyan Tree was planted by the Sheriff on April 24th, 1873 to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Protestant Mission in Lahaina. When the Banyan Tree was first planted, it was just eight feet tall. Today it reaches a height of close to sixty feet and spreads out to cover over a two hundred foot area. The Banyan Tree has grown so large by dropping roots from its branches and then these roots become additional trunks over the process of time. It is hard to get a decent picture of the Banyan Tree because it is so huge.
The Banyan Tree shades two thirds of the two acre area that is Courthouse Square in downtown Lahaina. On weekends and other special days, the Banyan Tree watches over many art fairs and craft sales. The Banyan Tree also looks over the yearly celebration of Halloween.
At around sunset the tree is filled with birds squawking and making all kinds of noise. Might not be a good time to be standing underneath the tree.
"A banyan is a fig that starts its life as an epiphyte when its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices on a host tree (or on structures like buildings and bridges). "Banyon" often refers specifically to the species Ficus benghalensis, though the term has been generalized to include all figs that share a unique life cycle, and sytematically to refer to the subgenus Urostigma The seeds of banyans are dispersed by fruit-eating birds. The seeds germinate and send down roots towards the ground, and may envelope part of the host tree or building structure with their roots, giving them 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.
Older banyon trees are characterized by their aerial prop roots which grow into thick woody trunks which, with age, can become indistinguishable from the main trunk. Old trees can spread out laterally using these prop roots to cover a wide area. The largest such tree is now found in Kolkata in India. One of famous banyan tree was planted in Kabirvad, Gujarat. Record shows that Kabirvad is morethen 300 years old. Another famous banyan tree was planted in 1873 in Lahaina's Courthouse Square in Hawai'i, and has grown to now cover two-thirds of an acre.
Like other Fig species (which includes the common edible fig Ficus carica), banyons have unique fruit structures and are dependent on fig wasps for reproduction.
The name was originally given to F. benghalensis and comes from India where early travellers observed that the shade of the tree was frequented by banias or Indian traders.
In the Gujarati language, banyan means "merchant", not "tree". The Portuguese picked up the word to refer specifically to Hindu merchants and passed it along to the English as early as 1599 with the same meaning. By 1634, English writers began to tell of the banyan tree, a tree under which Hindu merchants would conduct their business. The tree provided a shaded place for a village meeting or for merchants to sell their goods. Eventually banyan came to mean the tree itself. Today, the banyan is considered sacred in India and Pakistan."