Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The baka banyan tree in Fiji

One of the most interesting trees in Fiji is the baka or banyan tree, also known as the Justice Tree and sometimes the Strangler Fig tree as it seeds from the top of a tree and creates long aerial roots that eventually enclose the host tree. There are several baka trees in Suva, in the Navua area, and in most towns in Fiji. It has various connotations and some people are frightened of the sea-weed like aerial roots and the appearance of a kind of dark cave at the base of the tree. The Justice Tree as a name is an interesting idea and it was so-named because back in India and some other Asian countries business deals were transacted beneath these trees and held to be binding. Merchants were called 'banian'.


Pandabonium said...

Banyans are beautiufl trees. That is really interesting to learn of the story behind the "justice tree".

There are two banyans which are favorites of mine. One is in a park next to Lahaina harbor on Maui and is over 125 years old. It covers the entire block-square park.

The other is next to the marina of Taveuni Estates, Fiji. That one was partly damaged by cyclone Ami in Jauary of 2003. Overgrown and tangled within the trunk at its base are the flywheel and some other parts of a 1920's steam powered tractor!

In Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii (which is about the size of Viti Levu by the way) is "Banyan Drive" where a long row of banyans have been planted by a number of interesting people over the years including Cecil B. deMille in 1933, Louis Armstrong in 1963, Amelia Earhart in 1935, Babe Ruth (George Herman) in 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1934, Richard Nixon in 1952, and King George V in 1935.

Anonymous said...

Panda, if you have a pix of the Taveuni banyan with the tractor parts entwinned can you please post it on your site?

nzm said...

We visited Mauritius back in April, and apart from the French influences, it's the closest country that I've found to being like Fiji.

Banyan trees, sugar cane - so similar

Pandabonium said...

Anonymous - I do have some have pics of that tree with the tractor parts. I'll scan them when I have time and post them as you request.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation on the baka tree and how its other names were derived. Happy to gain a little bit more knowledge on a tree that fascinated me as a kid growing up in Vuda Point. There used to be a baka tree outside the Shell Oil Depot (guess its now Total). It provided great shade during the hot weather.