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Banyan (Ficus benghalensis)


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Banyan, banyan fig, banyantree, bengal fig, east indian figtree, horn fig, indian banyan [English], arbre banian, figuier des pagodes [French], Banyanbaum, Banyan Feige, Bengalische Feige [German], bargá, figueira bargá, figueira de Bengala, arvore da gralha, palmatoria do inferno [Portuguese], baniano [Spanish], বড়গছ borgos, বট-বৃক্ষ bot-brikkho [Assamese]; বট গাছ bot-gacha [Bengali]; વડ vad, વટ vat [Gujarati] ; बड़ bar, बर bar, बरगद bargad, बट bat, वट vat [Hindi] • ; ಆಲದಮರ aaladamara, ಗೋಳಿದಮರ golidamara, ವಟ vata [Kannada] ; वर् war [Kashmiri]; गोळी रूकु goli rooku, वडा रूकु vada rooku [Konkani]; പേരാൽ peraal [Malayalam]; khongnang taru [Manipuri]; वड vad, वट vat [Marathi]; hmâwng [Mizo]; बर bar [Nepali]; ବର bara, ବଟ ବୃକ୍ଷ bata-brksa, ଛାଯାତରୁ chhayataru [Oriya]; निग्रोध nigrodha, वटरुक्ख vatarukkha [Pali] ; ਬਡ਼ bar, ਬੋਹਡ਼ bohar [Punjabi]; वटवृक्ष vatavrksha [Sanskrit]; ஆல் aal [Tamil]; మర్రి marri [Telugu]; nya gro dha [Tibetan]; ಗೋಳಿದಮರ golidamara, ವಟ vata [Tulu]; برگد bargad [Urdu];


Ficus indica L., Ficus krishnae C. DC.

Related feed(s) 

The banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis L.) is a large evergreen tree native of Asia, characterized by its trunk-like aerial roots. Banyans are lopped for forage in Asia, particularly in times of scarcity.


The banyan tree is a large, long-lived, fast-growing evergreen tree up to 20 (-25 m) tall. It has a wide leafy crown of horizontal branches covering up to 100 m around, and surrounded by aerial roots. The banyan starts as an epiphyte. Its seeds can be laid by birds at branch forks and germinate on the host tree (US Forest Service, 2014). Its aerial roots grow around the host and may strangle it, hence the name "strangler fig". The trunk is massive, fluted. The bark is smooth, softly puberulous when young. The leaves are large, 8-25 cm long x 6-20 cm broad, stoutly petiolated. The lamina is coriaceous, nerved, ovate to obovate in shape. The lamina is glabrous on the upper face and finely pubescent beneath. The banyan tree is monoecious, male flowers and female flowers are distinctly borne on the tree. The inflorescence is hollow, consisting in a variable number of flowers in a pear-shaped receptacle. Gall flowers, a third kind of (sterile) flower exists. Gall flowers are produced in a large amount by the fig wasp, a fig tree pollinator. The fruit is a globose to depressed-globose fig, 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter and pinkish red in colour (Flora of Pakistan, 2020).


Banyan is an important tree in the Indian subcontinent. Banyan is the national tree of India due to its iconic aspect, longevity and cultural importance in Indian villages: the banyan tree is the focal point of village life and the village council meets under the shade of this tree (Know India, 2020). It was named banyan because it was appreciated for its shade by merchants and travellers from the Bania caste in India. The tree is planted as a shade tree and an ornamental along roads and in parks. All parts of the tree – fruits, leaves, roots and bark – are used in ethnomedicine. The fruits are edible but only eaten in times of scarcity. Banyan leaves are lopped for ruminants, particularly in lean periods (Rojas-Sandoval, 2015; Rojo et al., 1999; Nazki et al., 2018).


Ficus benghalensis is native to tropical Asia, from India towards Myanmar, Thailand, southern China and Malaysia. It can be found from 30°N to 10°S in areas with relatively low altitudes, 300-600 (-1300) m. It has been cultivated and became naturalized in many other tropical regions including western Africa, North America, West Indies, Australia, the Middle East, and many islands in the Pacific (Rojo et al., 1999; US Forest Service, 2014).

The banyan tree favours humid places with well distributed rainfall. It is drought-hardy and can withstand 4-6 dry months. It does better where annual average temperatures range between 17 and 25°C. It has some tolerance of lower temperatures and survives mild frost. Banyan trees grow best on well-drained sandy loam soils (US Forest Service, 2014).

Forage management 

Banyan seeds have a good shelf life, exceeding 2 years in open storage at room temperature. The seeds can be sown in nursery and then transplanted. In the wild, the banyan tree readily establishes from seeds that are transported by birds. Seedlings can develop at the branching nodes of other trees. The banyan is then considered an epiphyte and it can "strangle" the host with its aerial roots (Rojas-Sandoval, 2015). The banyan tree can propagate through coppicing or through stem-cuttings (Rojas-Sandoval, 2015; Oudhia, 2004). In Asia, banyan trees are often lopped for forage (Göhl, 1982).

Environmental impact 

Soil conservation and aforrestation

The banyan is a fast-growing tree that has been used for soil conservation and as an afforestation species (Rojas-Sandoval, 2015).

Methane emission mitigation

When fed to ruminants, banyan foliage was found to reduce enteric methane emissions by 20% (Bhatta et al., 2014) (see the Ruminants section)


The banyan is a pioneering and potential invasive species outside its native range. For instance, the plant is illegal to sell or plant in the Miami-Dade County of Florida (USA). If left uncontrolled, Ficus benghalensis can become a threat to infrastructures and buildings, as it may devour the host if it germinates in fence posts, bridges, walls or buildings (US Forest Service, 2014).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Banyan leaves are relatively poor in protein (9-14% DM) and rich in fibre (ADF > 30% DM, lignin > 10% DM).

Potential constraints 

Banyan leaves may contain high amounts (> 10% DM) of condensed tannins (Bhatta et al., 2012; Dey et al., 2006).


Banyan leaves fresh or fallen are used in the Indian Sub-Continent to feed ruminants such as goats, sheep or bullocks (Gaikwad et al., 2017; Verma, 2016; Singh et al., 2012; Mandal, 1997; Prasad et al., 1992; Mia et al., 1960; Devendra, 1988). It may play a vital role in feeding of goats and other ruminants in lean periods (Nazki et al., 2018). A comparison of several fodders in Gujarat concluded that it could be considered as a supplementary fodder (Parsana et al., 2013).


Banyan leaves were much better consumed by goats than bullocks (Nazki et al., 2018).


Various estimates of organic matter digestibility indicate relatively low values: 49% (in vivo, Sen, 1938), 50% (gas production method, Pal et al., 2015), 38% (in vitro, Pavithra et al., 2019). This is likely due to the high lignin and tannin content of banyan leaves. Protein digestibility values are also relatively low, between 21 and 48% (Mia et al., 1960).

Cattle and goats

In India, a diet consisting in banyan leaves given ad libitum with wheat straw and wheat bran was found to be a satisfactory maintenance ration for cattle. Cattle and goats given only banyan leaves lost weight during the trial (Mia et al., 1960).

Mitigation of methane emissions

Compared to other tree leaves tested for their possible mitigation effect on methane production, banyan leaves have low to moderate impact but do not alter in vitro rumen fermentation (Pal et al., 2015; Bhatta et al., 2012). Banyan leaves have been tested in vivo for their mitigation effect on Mandya sheep (32 kg) methane emissions. Feeding sheep a complete diet including 4% banyan leaves (DM basis) did not change dry matter intake or digestibility of the diet but decreased methane production by 20-26%. These results were similar to those obtained with neem (Azadirachta indica) and jackfruit tree (Artocarpus heterophyllus) foliage at same level of inclusion (Malik et al., 2017).


No information about the use of banyan could be found for pigs (as of 2020).


It was reported that red jungle fowl ate fruits from Banyan tree on the soil (Beebe, 1926 cited by Collias et al., 1967).


No information seems available in the international literature (April 2020) of the use of banyan leaves in rabbit feeding. Since they are widely used for ruminant feeding, banyan leaves should be tested in rabbit feeding as a potential source of fibrous forage. It must be noted that their digestibility in ruminants is relatively low, so direct experiments must be conducted with rabbits before using them extensively in rabbit feeding.

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 38.2   31.7 46.6 4  
Crude protein % DM 10.9 1.9 9.1 14 6  
Crude fibre % DM 28.6   22.6 34 4  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 44.7   40.9 53.9 4  
Acid detergent fibre % DM 34.6   30 41.3 4  
Lignin % DM 13.2   10.3 16 3  
Ether extract % DM 3.6   2.6 4.9 4  
Ash % DM 12.2 2.7 8.3 14.8 5  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.8       1 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 20.8   10.7 26 3  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 4.9   1.9 7.8 3  
Manganese mg/kg DM 958       1  
Zinc mg/kg DM 73       1  
Iron mg/kg DM 2458       1  
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Tannins (eq. tannic acid) g/kg DM 60   20 90 2  
Tanins, condensed (eq. catechin) g/kg DM 130   20 260 3  
In vitro digestibility and solubility Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
In vitro DM digestibility (pepsin) % 37       1  
In vitro OM digestibility (pepsin) % 31       1  
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 48.5       1  
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 46.3         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.3         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 6.7         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 28.2       1  
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 7.6         *
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 7.2         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 42.5         *
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 53.5         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Bhatta et al., 2012; Dey et al., 2006; Gaikwad et al., 2017; Mia et al., 1960; Pal et al., 2015; Pavithra et al., 2019; Sen, 1938

Last updated on 10/09/2020 11:41:52

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2020. Banyan (Ficus benghalensis). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/155 Last updated on September 10, 2020, 13:15