Return to Library Home Page

Scientific: Ficus benghalensis
Common: banyan fig, Bengal fig, Indian fig, East Indian fig tree
Family: Moraceae
Origin: Tropical south Asia including Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka; naturalized in northern Australia and Pacific Island.

Pronounciation: FII-cus ben-gal-LEN-sis

Hardiness zones
USDA 9 (some freeze damage may occur)-11

Landscape Use: Shade, screen, also can be grown in a large container in bright large atriums.

Form & Character: Banyan fig is a very large and stately tree that produces long above-ground adventitious roots when mature. It has a massive trunk flare. It is rounded and spreading, imposing, strong, immovable, and generally clean.

Growth Habit: Evergreen, soft-wooded, broadleaf perennial tree, moderately upright and spreading in Phoenix to 50-feet tall with a greater spread; produces aerial roots.

Foliage/Texture: Alternate, oval to ovate large leaves to 6- to 10-inches long, thick and leathery with prominent venation, green to olive green with smooth margins and a short petiole, new leaves are bronzy red in color; medium coarse texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Axillary flowers are in pairs, but are inconspicuous; fruits are small, rounded (globose), and reddish when mature.

Seasonal color: None

Temperature: Hardiness range is 25oF to 30oF (cold) to 115oF (heat).

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Needs regular water

Pruning: Elevate canopy base for visibility. Because of sunscald sensitivities, don't excessively thin the crown of this tree!

Propagation: Stem cuttings, seed, air layering.

Disease and Pests: None

Additional comments: Banyan fig is a large, no, VERY LARGE evergreen shade tree - here's one big dude in Los Angeles. It is one of those tropical/subtropical trees that grows well in southern California and as a result people try to grow it also in Phoenix with moderate success. I've observed that Banyan fig is quite fickle about the microclimates in which it does well in the Phoenix area. In short, adequate moisture and protection from reflected western sun and heat and cold extremes (especially when the tree is younger and smaller) are the keys to success in growing this monster tree in the lower Arizona deserts. Banyan fig is considered sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists religions. The foliage and milky sap of all figs including Banyan fig can sometimes be an irritant to skin and eyes.