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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Chandigarh Ficus benjamina tree: Here’s nature’s beautiful figment of imagination

A species of flowering plant in the Moraceae family, the Ficus benjamina is a native of the Indo Malayan region.

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Published: September 25, 2016 6:22:05 am
tree-759 Ficus Benjamina tree in Sector 8, Chandigarh. Express Photo

WHEN IT was introduced to Chandigarh, according to the Tree Directory of Chandigarh, it was officially found in parking in front of Shanti Kunj in Sector 16 and on the V4 road of Sector 36 (towards the north side). The Ficus benjamina, or more commonly known as weeping fig, Benjamin fig, and Ficus tree, found popularity with time, as people started planting and cultivating it as an indoor plant. Today, one can spot ficus trees in quite some parts of the city — Sector 28, the sector 26-7 roundabout, in Sector 8, towards IT Park etc.

This potted beauty, once planted in ground, develops roots so fast that it grows tall and deep, its thick canopy with small, thin leaves and drooping branches carried gracefully by a shapely light brown trunk.

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A species of flowering plant in the Moraceae family, the Ficus benjamina is a native of the Indo Malayan region, Burma, foot of Eastern Himalayas, Assam, Chittagong, Andamans, Chhota Nagpur, Travancore, Malay Archipelago and China. According to some sources, it is also the official tree of Bangkok. From a potted plant, a houseplant to a roadside avenue tree, the Java Fig can be cultivated in any which manner. Interestingly, for a plant that shoots up as fast as it takes space below the earth, it’s being planted on narrow road dividers of Chandigarh!

Like most of the flora, it does best in sunny spots, moderate amount of watering, and looked after in winters — basically protected from extreme cold for it is a tropical variety. Because, like we mentioned, it grows pretty fast, the Ficus needs regular pruning.

Now, like most of the trees, Ficus benjamina too has its upsides — one being its superpower to effectively remove gaseous formaldehyde from indoor air. Yes, it can disinfect and purify the air, hence great as a houseplant. It’s a fruiting tree, and the figs, small round and orange in colour, are safe and edible; rather delicious too. The figs are the reason birds like pigeons and doves and bees are attracted to this tree, and they form twice a year.

They grow in abundance and can certainly create quite a squishy mess on the ground. If you have a chance to spot an older Ficus benjamina, it appears similar to the banyan tree, with roots hanging from its branches. So go ahead, do pot one.

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