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Whitley, R - Ficus religiosa

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 6 months ago

Ficus religiosa Rebekah Whitley




Ficus is the Latin word for fig.  Religiosa refers to religion, the tree is

often planted in temples and is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists.

The fact that this tree plays and important role in the history of

Buddhism and is sacred is what interested me most about this tree.

Common Name: Sacred Fig, Bo tree, Bodhi tree, Peepal, Beepul tree


Family: Moraceae (mulberry family)


Description: F. religiosa is a small-medium sized tree with wide spreading branches.  In monsoon climates it is semi or fully deciduous.  The leaves are dark green, heart shaped, and  range from five to seven inches.  The leaves tips are tail-like which allow water to flow  off into the soil.  Flowering occurs  in February where small red flowers are formed.  The tree bears figs that are flat-topped and turn purple with red dots when ripe.


Life form: Perrenial


Propogation:  Due to its dependance on its pollinator wasp, Blastophaga quadraticeps it can only freely propogate in its native areas. It must be progated from cuttings in areas where the pollinator wasp is not available.


Cultivation: F. religiosa is often cultivated for medicinal uses, for ornamental/horticultural purposes, and for use in the making of shellac which is a molding compound often used in dental molds and for handlebar tape.


Invasiveness: Due to the absense of the pollinator wasp F. religiosa can only be propogated in non-native countries.  But the wasp successfully invaded  Israel and allowed the tree to spread.


Mutualism: Ficus Religiosa and Blastophaga quadraticeps are part of a obligate mutualism where both need eachother in order to reproduce.  Blastophaga quadraticeps pollinate Ficus Religiosa and in turn lay eggs within the fruit, which is the only place that they can do so.


Uses: All parts of the tree are useful.  The bark is is often used for cooling and as an astringent as well as for inflammations. The root bark can be used for stomatitis, an inflammation of the mucus lining of the mouth.  Roots can be used for gout, a chronic type of inflammatory arthritis and can help prevent gum disease when chewed.  The fruit can be used as a laxative and can help promote digestion.  When the fruit is ripe it can be used for poison, venom, or infection as an antidote.


History: Ficus Religiosa is a sacred tree to both the Hindus and Buddhist.  Legend says that Siddhartha  Guatama achieved enlightenment, turning into a Buddha  after sitting under a Ficus Religiosa where he was meditating.   A clone descendant of this tree is the Bodhi tree which grows in Bihar, India at the Mahabodhi Temple; this is one of the most holy sites for Buddhists. One of the oldest living trees and another believed descendant is the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.



Ficus religiosa is the oldest depicted tree in Indian literature

and art and can be described as the Tree of Life.




	F. religiosa is native to India, mainly the northern and eastern part of India.  They can grow in elevations of 5,000 feet and are widely found in uplands 
and plane areas. It is also propogated in South Africa, Hawaii, Florida Southern California, and Israel.





  •        Refers to the native area in which F. religiosa found


which is the northern and eastern parts of India.



The biome which F. religiosa is found is the Tropical & Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests. This ecoregion has a great amount of species diversity and is mainly composed of semi-evergreen and evergreen deciduous tree species.  WWF characterizes this ecoregion by its low variability in annual temperature and high levels of rainfall which promotes explosive plant growth.  More species are found in these forests than any other ecosystem.  Most of the animals present in these forests are found in the canopy, where the biodiversity is the greatest.


This habitat sounds like the perfect place for plants and animals to coincide.  But with giant supply of trees this is an obvious place for humans to come in and take advantage of the ample supply.  This does happen to be the case with these forests.  Humans are coming in and logging these trees as well as clearing the land for various purposes like for farm use.  With all this human activity the trees are in great danger along with the animals that lived among them.  Their habitat where they lived is being destroyed by humans.   With the increased rate of deforestation species of both plants and animals are under much risk of extinction.  WWF claims that the extinction rate will be 17,000 species per year if this rate of deforestation continues.


It is a hard process to try to completely stop deforestation, but there are small things that anyone can do to help reverse it.  The obvious thing that can be done is reforestation.  This can be done on a small scale, like by planting in ones yard. This can help supply some of the oxygen that the trees would have provided. To reduce the need for land clearing for farm use, farmers can rotate their crops which help to maintain the fertility of the soil and in turn the land will be of use for a longer amount of time. One can also take a stand against deforestation by joining an advocate group or program that helps stop deforestation in any form.  Deforestation can not easily be reversed but every little thing done will help in the long run.






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Ten Thousand trees [Internet]. [cited 2008 Feb 14]. Available from http://www.tenthousandtrees.com/Tropical/Tree%20-%20Sacred%20fig%20-%20Ficus%20Religiosa.html   


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