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banyans Species of fig tree (Ficus) that have spreading crowns and descending prop roots. They commence life as epiphytes; then descending anastomosing (see ANASTOMOSIS) roots strangle the trunk of the host tree. The Buddha attained enlightenment beneath a banyan (F. religiosa). The famous banyan in Calcutta Botanic Garden, F. bengalensis, dates from 1782 and is more than 300 m in circumference.