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India’s Great Banyan Tree Is Its Own Forest

If you were to see the Great Banyan Tree in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden from a distance, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a forest. Spanning more than 14,493 square meters, the tree is the widest in the world—so large that it covers more ground than the average Wal-Mart.

No one is quite sure exactly how old the Great Banyan Tree is due to a lack of official records, but experts estimate that the tree is at least 250 years old; the earliest references to the tree have been found in travel writing dating all the way back to the 19th century. Over the years, the tree has been through a lot. Not only has it survived 2 major cyclones in 1864 and 1867, but its main trunk was also infected with a deadly fungus. This infection meant that the main trunk of the tree needed to be removed in 1925.

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