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by Bob Kerstetter
Made famous because its spiritual, mystical importance in the movie Avatar, the banyan tree is also important to Asian countries, including Vietnam, because of its beauty and shade. While both Hinduism and Buddhism attribute religious importance to the banyan, at heart it is a fig tree with particular interest in putting down roots.
Once a banyan tree becomes established and reaches a comfortable width, its limbs start growing roots toward the earth. Eventually, these additional roots become trunks which provide support for even more expansion.
Banyan trees can live for several hundred years and grow to large diameters, on occasion to thousands of feet. They can reach 200 feet or more in height. The downward grow conforms to the shape of any obstacles they encounter, permitting the banyan to take on the likeness of a gate or a house. Long after the obstacle is returned to the earth, the banyan continue to show its form, making for some interesting looking trees.
This type of expandability, flexibility and durability make it easy to understand why people assign it spiritual significance. Yet, it too, lasts only for its season, then disappears.
Banyan Tree in Downtown Ho Chi Minh City
Roots Growing Down
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