Seen from a distance, you’d be justified in thinking the Great Banyan Tree in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden is a small, independent forest.
Yet step into its shade and see the connection of branches – and you realize: wait, this is all one big, big….. BIG tree.
The Great Banyan Tree is over two hundred and fifty years old and covers about 14,500 square meters of land (3.5 square acres) in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden near Kolkata (Calcutta), making it the widest tree in the world.
From a distance, the tree has the appearance of a forest, but what appear to be individual trees are actually aerial roots- around 3,600 of them.
After two cyclones in the 19th century that led to a fungal attack, the tree’s main 15.7-meter-wide (51-foot) trunk had to be removed. Fortunately, the “clonal colony” of the tree itself remains healthy.
The tree sports a roundabout road built for the convenience of visitors – but it continues to grow past this bound into the land beyond.