The Most Famous Tree in Hawaii

Image Credit: Darcey Prout/Flickr

The Banyan Tree (Ficus Benghalensis) of Lahaina, Maui is probably the most famous Banyan Tree of the Hawaiian Islands. The tree is located on the Front Street between Hotel Street and Canal Street. The banyan fig is originally from India and was planted in April, 1873 to commemorate the founding of the first Christian mission in Lahaina, which was done fifty years earlier. It now stands over 60 feet high and is so large that it covers two thirds of an acre or a whole block.

Every now and then a ray of sunlight shimmers through the branches. When the wind blows up from the port the flutter of a few hectic mynah birds can be heard rustling through the leaves. Otherwise the place is silent except for the low humming of the generator in the harbor and the laughter of children playing in the branches.

The banyan looks like a sci-fi greenhouse. The tree now has more than 16 trunks in addition to a huge core, stretches over a 200-foot area and shades most of the space in which it is located. All the space near the banyan was overgrown and one gets the impression of a small forest, not a single tree. This spot is usually used for events and art exhibits and people enjoying ice cream, street performers and vendors can be found in its vicinity. A regular event is “Art in the Park” where affordable paintings go on sale along with a wealth of crafts and limited edition prints.

Tree bark damage left by visitors. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Caring members of the community carefully maintain the symmetrical shape of the Banyan tree. It is one of the largest Indian Banyan in the world.

Even though it’s recommended to go in the morning, the place can get a bit crowded by tourists in the afternoon, be sure to visit it at sunset also. The cacophony of birds settling in for the night will blow your mind. The Banyan tree is not a sight to miss.

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