Monday, December 22, 2008

A touristy day in Lahaina, Maui Part II: Monster of the plant world

The apparently famous banyan tree in Lahaina was remarkable. My pictures of it did not do it justice - did not show it in true character, but I have a link here to a picture someone put up a few years ago, that shows it quite effectively. Bear in mind, a few years ago. It's a monster tree. It looks scary to me - like a giant monster, a ginormous octopus or something, growing ever larger, eagerly reaching out its tentacles to take over Maui completely some day if suddenly one day all the people were to disappear and there were no one there to keep it pruned.. an explosion in slow biological motion. Check out the lateral branch pattern, that would just keep going if people didn't keep it pruned. If one of those dangling bits touches earth, it grows into a new trunk. It is a roof over the entire park, the size of a small city block. If no one cut those back continuously, pretty soon the "tree" would be an impenetrable thicket. May there always be gardeners on Maui and may they keep that thing under control until the end of time.

Under the picture appears this explanation:
"The famous Banyan Tree located in courthouse square in the center of Lahaina was brought to Maui from India when the tree was a mere eight-feet tall. It was planted to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Lahaina's first Christian mission. It has become the central point of town under which you'll find meetings, craft shows, entertainment and almost anything else you can imagine. The tree now reaches a height of about 50 feet and extends over 200 feet from side to side."

Here is a wikipedia link re: the "strangler fig" or banyan tree. Some reasons I can see for it becoming popular, even revered, are:
  1. presumably it provides figs of some hopefully edible kind,
  2. it would likely provide fast-growing and endless supplies of firewood for cooking,
  3. it would provide shade and habitat for innumerable creatures.
Disadvantages would include choking out other kinds of vegetation.

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