Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A tropical Indian fig tree (Ficus benghalensis), often widely spreading because of the many aerial roots that descend from the branches and develop into additional trunks. It is planted for ornament and shade.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An Indian trader, merchant, cashier, or money changer.
  • n. A tropical Indian fig tree, Ficus benghalensis, that has many aerial roots.
  • n. A type of loose gown worn in India.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A tree of the same genus as the common fig, and called the Indian fig (Ficus Indica), whose branches send shoots to the ground, which take root and become additional trunks, until it may be the tree covers some acres of ground and is able to shelter thousands of men.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. See banian.
  • n. See banian.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a loose fitting jacket; originally worn in India
  • n. East Indian tree that puts out aerial shoots that grow down into the soil forming additional trunks

Etymologies

Short for banyan tree, merchants' tree, from Portuguese banian, Hindu merchant, from Gujarati vāṇiyo, from Sanskrit vāṇijaḥ.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Portuguese banian, from Arabic بنيان, from Gujarati વાણિયો (vāṇiyo, "merchant"), from Sanskrit वाणिज (vāṇijá), from earlier वणिज् (vaṇíj, "merchant, trader"). The name appears to have been first bestowed popularly on a famous tree of this species growing near Bandar Abbas, under which the Bannians or Hindu traders settled at that port, had built a little pagoda. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • His wife however kept in front of the snake and would not let it pass; she called the banyan tree to witness that the snake should not eat her husband without first killing her; without her husband she would have no one to support her.

    Folklore of the Santal Parganas

  • What Sweetie called the banyan, Rose called the ficus, because I did.

    Beard

  • Ever since, millions of his followers have considered the tree (actually a pipal, though known as a banyan) and an adjoining temple the holiest of sites, which they try to visit at least once in their lives.

    Big Trouble Under The Banyan Tree

  • Respect for the banyan, which is hundreds of years old, is based partly on feng shui, a Chinese system of philosophy that emphasizes harmony with nature, and partly on centuries-old local beliefs about the mystical value of trees.

    Tree expresses wish for a rest from granting wishes.

  • Aiding the banyan were the creatures that lived in its forest aisles, the trappersnappers, the jack-in-the-box wiltmilts, the berrywishes, the deadly dripperlips and others.

    HOTHOUSE

  • These were called banyan days, in allusion to the vegetarian diet of the Hindu merchants.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 3, Part 1, Slice 3 "Banks" to "Bassoon"

  • The banyan is the _Ficus indica_, or _Urostigma bengalense_; the

    Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official

  • Fridays, the ship's company had no allowance of meat, and that these meagre days were called banyan days, the reason of which they did not know; but I have since learned they take their denomination from a sect of devotees in some parts of the East Indies, who never taste flesh.

    The Adventures of Roderick Random

  • The montane forests include both evergreen tree species such as banyan (Ficus microcarpa), Cryptocarya chinensis, and Schefflera octophylla and deciduous species such as kapok (Bombax malabaricum) and the leguminous Albizia procera.

    South Taiwan monsoon rain forests

  • While we rested here, a pair of the little brown songsters alighted among the branches of the "banyan," and entertained us with a vocal performance, in which they took up the strain alternately, responding to each other, and occasionally uniting in a chorus.

    The Island Home

Comments

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  • Ficus religiosa is a species of banyan (as it says on ficus religiosa).

    July 28, 2009

  • The banyan's Ficus benghalensis, c_b.

    The Banyan tree is named after "banians" or Hindu traders who carryout their business under the tree. (source)

    July 28, 2009

  • Ficus religiosa?

    October 20, 2008

  • A lot of 'em in Hawaii too! As wonderful as they are strange-looking...

    August 31, 2007

  • Lots of these in Florida, where I grew up. Very cool trees. There's a little bed and breakfast in my old hometown called the Banyan House -- it's a little cottage utterly surrounded by banyan trees, which have intertwined themselves around it like giant vines.

    August 31, 2007

  • August 31, 2007