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Useful Tropical Plants

Ficus benghalensis

L.

Moraceae

+ Synonyms

Ficus banyana Oken

Ficus chauvieri G.Nicholson

Ficus cotoneifolia Vahl

Ficus cotonifolia Stokes

Ficus crassinervia Kunth & C.D.Bouché

Ficus karet Baill.

Ficus krishnae C.DC.

Ficus lancifolia Moench

Ficus lasiophylla Link

Ficus procera Salisb.

Ficus pubescens B.Heyne ex Roth

Ficus umbrosa Salisb.

Perula benghalensis Raf.

Urostigma benghalense (L.) Gasp.

Urostigma crassirameum Miq.

Urostigma procerum Miq.

Urostigma pseudorubrum Miq.

Urostigma rubescens Miq.

Urostigma sundaicum Miq.

Urostigma tjiela Miq.

Common Name: Banyan

Ficus benghalensis
A single tree in Bangalore, starting to form its own forest
Photograph by: Delonix
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Ficus benghalensis Ficus benghalensis Ficus benghalensis Ficus benghalensis Ficus benghalensis Ficus benghalensis Ficus benghalensis Ficus benghalensis Ficus benghalensis

General Information

The banyan tree is an evergreen tree with a wide, spreading crown; it can grow 20 - 30 metres or more tall. The plant usually begins life as an epiphyte, growing in the branch of another tree; as it grows older it sends down aerial roots which, when they reach the ground quickly form roots and become much thicker and more vigorous. They supply nutrients to the fig, allowing it to grow faster than the host tree. The aerial roots gradually encircle the host tree, preventing its main trunk from expanding, whilst at the same time the foliage smothers the foliage of the host. Eventually the host dies, leaving the fig to carry on growing without competition. It can become a very large, spreading tree in time, with some specimens several hundred metres across and producing aerial roots from the spreading branches that eventually become new trunks and allow the crown to spread even further[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
302
Title
Tropical Ornamentals; A Guide
Publication
 
Author
Whistler. W. Arthur.
Publisher
Timber Press Inc. Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-448-2
Description
An excellent little guide to some of the more commonly cultivated ornamental plants of the Tropics, often giving some information on the plants other uses.
].
The tree is harvested from the wild for its edible fruit and medicinal uses. It also supplies a timber and a material for tying. The tree is considered sacred by Hindus and is commonly planted for religious purposes, it is also grown as an ornamental and to provide shade along roads as well as in parks and large gardens[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
,
302
Title
Tropical Ornamentals; A Guide
Publication
 
Author
Whistler. W. Arthur.
Publisher
Timber Press Inc. Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-448-2
Description
An excellent little guide to some of the more commonly cultivated ornamental plants of the Tropics, often giving some information on the plants other uses.
,
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

E. Asia - Indian subcontinent.

Habitat

Monsoon and rain forests[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
]. Evergreen to deciduous lowland forest[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height25.00 m
Growth RateFast
PollinatorsWasps
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the moist tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations from 500 - 1,200 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 26 - 36°c, but can tolerate 9 - 40°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Mature plants can be killed by temperatures of -2°c or lower, but young growth will be severely damaged ay -1°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 500 - 4,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Young plants are quite shade tolerant, but require increasing amounts of sunshine as they grow larger[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers a fertile, light to medium soil[
302
Title
Tropical Ornamentals; A Guide
Publication
 
Author
Whistler. W. Arthur.
Publisher
Timber Press Inc. Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-448-2
Description
An excellent little guide to some of the more commonly cultivated ornamental plants of the Tropics, often giving some information on the plants other uses.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 4.5 - 8.5[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The tree has become naturalized in northeastern Australia, where it is deemed to be invasive[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
].
A fast-growing tree[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].
Fig trees have a unique form of fertilization, each species relying on a single, highly specialized species of wasp that is itself totaly dependant upon that fig species in order to breed. The trees produce three types of flower; male, a long-styled female and a short-styled female flower, often called the gall flower. All three types of flower are contained within the structure we usually think of as the fruit.
The female fig wasp enters a fig and lays its eggs on the short styled female flowers while pollinating the long styled female flowers. Wingless male fig wasps emerge first, inseminate the emerging females and then bore exit tunnels out of the fig for the winged females. Females emerge, collect pollen from the male flowers and fly off in search of figs whose female flowers are receptive. In order to support a population of its pollinator, individuals of a Ficus spp. Must flower asynchronously. A population must exceed a critical minimum size to ensure that at any time of the year at least some plants have overlap of emmission and reception of fig wasps. Without this temporal overlap the short-lived pollinator wasps will go locally extinct[
413
Title
Global Invasive Species Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.issg.org/database/welcome/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Very detailed information on almost 400 species (with more being added) of plants that have become weeds in areas outside their native range.
].

Edible Uses

Ripe fruit - raw[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
]. A sweetish flavour[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
]. Relished by children[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
]. Generally only eaten when better foods are not available[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

Medicinal

The leaves are used to remedy dysentery and diarrhoea[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. They are used in a decoction with toasted rice as a diaphoretic[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].
The young leaves are heated and used as a poultice[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
]. They are applied to abscesses as a poultice to promote suppurations and discharge of pus[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The concentrated latex, combined with the fruit, is aphrodisiac and is used to treat spermatorrhoea and gonorrhoea[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Mixed with sugar, it is used as a treatment for dysentery in children[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
].
The milky latex in the plant is applied topicaly to treat toothache, bruises, painful areas, rheumatic joints and lumbago[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It is dripped into wounds in order to kill or expel germs, and is applied to treat bleeding and swelling of the gums[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
].

The bark is tonic and diuretic. An infusion is antidiabetic and a decoction is used as an astringent in the treatment of leucorrhoea[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

A decoction of the root fibres is useful as a treatment against gonorrhoea, whereas the tender ends of the aerial roots are used for obstinate vomiting[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

An infusion of the twigs is a useful remedy for haemoptysis[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The milky latex is used against pains and fever, rheumatism and lumbago, toothache, and applied to cracked and inflamed soles[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The fruit is tonic and has a cooling effect[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

This species can be a very noxious weed in the forest, occupying a large amount of space to the exclusion of more useful species[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Further, it is very destructive to any walls or buildings it grows near to and is extremely difficult to eradicate[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Other Uses

The aerial roots are used for temporary binding materials[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
].

The bark and leaves contain tannins[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

The latex obtained from all parts of the plant can be used to produce an inferior quality rubber[
302
Title
Tropical Ornamentals; A Guide
Publication
 
Author
Whistler. W. Arthur.
Publisher
Timber Press Inc. Oregon.
Year
2000
ISBN
0-88192-448-2
Description
An excellent little guide to some of the more commonly cultivated ornamental plants of the Tropics, often giving some information on the plants other uses.
].

The wood is light in weight, water-resistant[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
,
719
Title
A Manual of the Timbers of the World
Publication
 
Author
Howard A.L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
MacMillan and Co.; London.
Year
1934
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent and comprehensive book on timbers. Rather dated, but still a main source of information for many of the less known woods. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. A low-quality wood, it is not suitable for general use, but it might be employed for secondary cabinet work, such as the linings of drawers and cabinets[
719
Title
A Manual of the Timbers of the World
Publication
 
Author
Howard A.L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
MacMillan and Co.; London.
Year
1934
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent and comprehensive book on timbers. Rather dated, but still a main source of information for many of the less known woods. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. It is used locally for poles, cart yokes, furniture and to line wells[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
].

Propagation

Seed - germinates best at a temperature around 20°c[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Air layering[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Tip cuttings around 4 - 12cm long, taken from lateral branches[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

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