The Banyan Tree is the National Tree and one of the important symbol of India centuries old trees are also natural heritage there is 300 years old. Banyan tree is a very huge structure, long and deep roots and branches symbolize the country's unity. This huge tree towers over its neighbors and has the widest reaching roots of all known trees, easily covering several acres.
The Great Banyan Tree of West Bengal is located in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden at Howrah, near Kolkata, is a great natural heritage. Thousands of branchesand aerial roots of Great Banyan Tree are spread in an area of about .016 SquareKilometers, making the tree as a small forest itself. The tree's girth is 28 feet 7 inches.Over the years, it consistently gains more trunks and branches that add to its longevity. According to the Indian mythology, it is considered immortal. Historical records say that Alexander the Great camped under a banyan tree that was large enough to provide shelter to his army of 7000 men. In Hindu religion, the banyan tree is considered sacred and is called "Ashwath Vriksha"
The huge sized tree acts as a shield, protects from hot sun. This is the reason why the tree is planted near homes, temples, villages and roadsides. In the rural parts of the country, banyan tree is considered as the focal point of the Panchayats and the gathering place for village councils and meetings. The tree is also considered sacred by the Hindus of India. With high medicinal value, banyan is often used as an herb to treat and cure many diseases.
The tree bears fruits that look like figs. The fruits, which appear red in color when matured, are not edible. The dark green leaves of the tree are large and leathery. This is the reason why, the leaves are used as animal fodder. The flowers produced by the tree often attract wasps, for pollination. An old banyan tree can reach more than 656 feet in diameter and can be as tall as 98 feet. The rubber, produced from the sticky milk of banyan tree, is used for gardening.
Banyan tree is well known for its medicinal uses. Its sap is a medicine for treating external skin inflammations and bruising, dysentery, toothaches and ulcers. Its bark and seeds are used to produce a herbal tonic that can cool the body. Diabetic patients are also treated by the tonic made from banyan tree.