I am a huge admirer of native trees. This is a story of an Indian fig tree that has been on this planet for as long as one can imagine. For some indigenous people, this tree is 100 years old and according to some old folk, this banian tree is more than 200 years ago.
(The banyan in old days was usually spelt as banian or banius because of its reference to the trader’s community who used to sit and sold their precious products under the mighty shade of these trees.)
From a historical perspective, it has been rumoured that Mahatama Gandhi used to sit beneath the green shade of this tree. The Zoo was known as a Mahatama Gandhi Garden in those unforgettable times.
This is a little known fact that the Karachi zoo came into existence in the year 1878. Because of his immense fondness for that botanical garden, it was initially called a Mahatama Gandhi Garden. It was turned into the zoo after the partition in 1947 and hence the name was mercilessly changed for the generations to come.
The banyan tree is a popular Pakistani village tree and in the native language, it is commonly known as the Barghad ka darakht. According to the local community, a banyan is a tree that makes wishes comes true.
It is a fig tree that has happily begun its life as an epiphyte. If you are not familiar with the term epiphyte then I would like to describe it as a kind of plant that usually grows on another plant but not as a parasite.
It grows on a host plant but unlike a parasitic plant, it takes no nutrients from the host tree but mostly relies on nutrients from other resources such as from the air, rainwater etc.
I am an ardent lover of three kinds of trees and their names are as per excellence. These are Naeem, peepal and banyan tree because my childhood was mostly spent under the shade of these beautiful trees. Native trees are usually aggressive and invasive in their behaviour and they have that innate ability to grow almost everywhere in a very short period.
The leaves of the tree as can be seen in these pictures are large, green, and elliptical. Some leaves are glossy, bright in appearance where there is sufficient sunlight and some leaves are dusty and thick, leathery in texture.
The trunks are painted white to signify that it is government property and hence, it is protected by law. In my opinion, old trees should not be painted white or in any colour possible so that people should respect and protect all old trees equally in their vicinity.
The fallen leaves are yellow and noticeably, there is no trace of grass under the shade of this tree. It is quite proverbial that nothing ever grows under the Banyan tree. The banyan tree does not let any grass or weed grow under it and believe me the reason for this is quite alluring and satisfying. As you can see that banyan leaves are quite thick and leathery and the entire tree looks like a huge mushroom type. Therefore the foliage of thick leaves doesn’t allow anything to flourish or sprout on its own. Only the plants that lacks chlorophyll can survive under a huge banyan tree.
- I recently came to know about these pictures through a Facebook group.