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D Native Photo: Dinesh Valke
Common name: Peepal, holy fig tree, peepul, sacred fig tree • Assamese: আঁহত ahot, পিপ্পল pippol • Bengali: অশ্বত্থ asbattha • Gujarati: અશ્વત્થ asvattha, પીપળો piplo • Hindi: अस्वत्थ aswattha, पीपल pipal • Kannada: ಅರಳಿಮರ aralimara, ಅಶ್ವತ್ಥಮರ asvatthamara • Konkani: अश्वता रूकू ashvata ruku, पिंपळ pimpal • Malayalam: അരയാൽ arayal, പിപ്പലം pippalam • Manipuri: সনা খোঙনাঙ sana khongnang • Marathi: अश्वत्थ ashwattha, पिंपळ pimpala • Mizo: hmâwng • Nepali: पिपल pipal • Oriya: ଓସ୍ତ osta • Sanskrit: अश्वत्थः Ashvattha, पिप्पलः Pippala, बोधिवृक्षः Bodhivriksha, कुञ्जराशनः Kunjarashan प्लक्षः Plaksha • Tamil: அரசமரம் araca-maram, பிப்பலம் pippalam • Telugu: పిప్పలము pippalamu, రావీచెట్టు Ravichettu • Urdu: پيپل Peepal
Botanical name: Ficus religiosa    Family: Moraceae (Mulberry family)
Synonyms: Ficus peepul, Ficus superstitiosa, Ficus caudata

Peepal is unrivalled for its antiquity and religious significance. No other tree is claimed to have such long life - one in Sri Lanka, said to have been planted in the year 288 B.C., still lives and flourishes. The Prince Siddhartha is known to have sat in meditation under a Bo tree and there found enlightenment from which time he became known as the Buddha. So, from then on the tree was sacred to Buddhists. Hindus associate the tree with the three gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, Vishnu being reputed to have been born under a Peepul, which is therefore Vishnu himself in the form of a tree. A grand peepal tree is a perfect shade tree, and village meetings are often conducted under a peepal tree. It is a large deciduous tree with a pale stem often appearing fluted on account of the numerous roots which have fused with the stem. Leaves leathery 4-8 inches long by 3-5 inches wide, somewhat egg-shaped or rounded, tailed at the tip and heart-shaped at the base, or sometimes rounded. The young leaves are frequently pink, change to copper and finally to green. Flowers minute within the receptacle. Fruit is a fig.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Maharashtra.

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