Ficus religiosa, sacred fig, Bodhi seeds

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Ficus religiosa
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Ficus religiosa, sacred fig, Bodhi seeds



Ficus religiosa is  commonly referred to as sacred fig, Bodhi, pippala tree, peepul, peepal tree. It is similar to Ficus caudate stokes and ficus rhynchophylla. The origin of this species is traced back to East Asia-Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Pakistan and parts of Thailand where the species has been planted before. However sacred fig is of significance in parts of Indian since it has been considered religious. Buddha Gautama is believed to have acquired religious enlighten, thus meditate the tree. Sri Lanka adopted this species in 228BCE. The species has been widely spread to other countries such as the Philippines and Singapore. Israel initiated sacred fig because of horticulture practices in the region.


It is a dry season deciduous, a semi-evergreen tree with a wide-spreading branch, which grows 15 - 30 meters tall, with 3 meters in diameter. It displays a regular shaped trunk.The leaf ranges from 11-16 centimetres long and forms a cordate shape which displays a distinct drip tip.


F. religiosa tree has a long lifespan with an average of 1,200 years, 3,000 years in some other native habitats.


The tree life begins with an epiphyte in the branch, as the tree matures it sets down roots which reach the ground quickly and forms aerial, it then becomes thick which enables It to serve and supply nutrients to the whole fig. During February F.religiosa flowers and produces fruits in May. Each species of ficus varies with species of wasp pollinator. However, for F.religiosa agaonid wasp hymenoptera, agaonidae and chalcoldea are common.


Fig tree portrays a unique form of fertilisation. There are various bird pollinators of ficus seeds, including blue faced dove, Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicas) and house sparrows (Passers domesticus). When the pollinators drop some seeds on other trees, they germinate on the hosting plant hence depend for anchorage. This particular species does not parasitize on other plants as a substitute.


When the host tree dies, it eventually leaves the fig growing rapidly, making it more competitive. F.religiosa though not tasty, they are used as a famine food, especially the small fig. Part of the leave buds is also consumed during times of scarcity. Moreover, twigs and seeds of the plant are antigonorrhoeic, antidote against venomous bites by some animals, astringent and laxative. Aerial roots are used to cure ascites due to its availability of diuretic in them; however, women have adversely chewed the roots to promote fertility. Woods obtained are used for fuel.


Under proper lopping and pollarding, a large amount of fodder can be obtained. Collection of ripe fruits are rubbed and washed to obtain clean seeds, which are later dried and stored in an airtight bag.


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