T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Ficus religiosa (Sacred fig tree)

Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Moraceae
Genus: Ficus
Species: F. religiosa
Binomial name: Ficus religiosa
Synonyms: Ficus caudate, Ficus peepul, Ficus religiosa var. cordata
Ficus religiosa var. rhynchophylla, Ficus rhynchophylla, Ficus superstitiosa, Urostigma affine, Urostigma religiosum
Common names: Sacred fig tree, Bodhi tree, Pippala tree, Peepul tree, Peepal tree, Ashwattha tree, Bo tree, Ara Budi, Botree fig, Pipal tree, Sacred fig, Sacred tree

Ficus religiosa is a species of fig native to the Indian subcontinent, and Indochina submontane forests up to 1,520 m altitude. It belongs to the Moraceae, the fig or mulberry family.
Ficus religiosa is a large dry season-deciduous or semi-evergreen tree up to 30 metres tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 3 metres.
The leaves are smooth and leathery, broadly ovate, measuring 9-18 cm long and 7.5-12 cm wide, spirally arranged. The leaves have a distinctive tail-like tip, up to 5 cm long. The leaf petioles are slender, 6-10 cm long. The leaves side veins are prominent, 5-9 pairs. Young flushes are pink in colour, turning to dark green when mature.
The fruits are small figs 1–1.5 centimetres in diameter, green ripening to purple.

The leaves of this tree move continuously even when the air around is still and no perceptible wind is blowing. This phenomenon can be explained due to the long leaf stalk and the broad leaf structure. However, some religious minded people in Hindu/Buddhist religion attribute this movement of the leaves to the fact that "devas" or "gods" reside on these leaves and make it move continuously. Its leaves are also used for decoration or souvenirs after the leaf is totally dry.
This tree is sacred to Hindus, Jainism and Buddhists and is usually planted around temples. It is said that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment (bodhi) while meditating underneath a Ficus religiosa.
Ficus religiosa can only be called a Bodhi tree if it is grown from saplings of trees that are believed to have been propagated from the original Bodhi tree. 
The photo below is of a Bodhi Tree was planted at Deekshabhoomi from three branches of the Bodhi Tree at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan brought these branches from Sri Lanka as a memorial of Buddha's enlightenment. 
Deekshabhoomi is in Nagpur, Maharashtra, a location regarded as a pilgrimage centre of Buddhism in India. Millions of pilgrims visit Deekshabhoomi every year.


Small green figs that turn purple when ripe

The leaves with their distinctive tail-like tip

The colour of the new flush.

A skeletonized leaf 

A special Ficus religiosa has now been planted in New Plymouth's Pukekura Park. 
Click here to read about this tree.

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: