Characteristics of Chinese Banyan Tree (Ficus microcarpa) in the Wild

Ficus microcarpa
Chinese banyan or Curtain fig (Ficus microcarpa) is one of the Ficus families and is still in the fig Moraceae family. This plant is native to China and is widespread in tropical Asia to Australia.

Chinese banyan has many synonym names internationally, including Malayan Banyan, Indian Laurel, and Gajumaru (ガ ジ ュ マ ル).

Chinese banyan trees are often planted as shrubs on the edges of the road and protective trees, not a few also use them as ornamental tree and bonsai tree.

Many people mistakenly identify Chinese Banyan and call it Ficus retusa or as Ficus nitida, but that is wrong. To see the difference clearly, you can read my article entitled Differences between Ficus retusa and Ficus microcarpa.

The Chinese banyan tree itself was first described in 1782 by Carl Linnaeus the Younger. In 1965, EJH Corner gave a new name to the mention of the Hill’s Weeping Fig tree, namely Ficus microcarpa var. hillii as a variety of Ficus microcarpa.

Chinese banyan is a tree that grows in the tropics, with soft light gray bark and neatly arranged leaves about 4-6 cm long.

If conditions are favorable, Chinese banyan trees can grow large and produce large amounts of root support.

The largest known Chinese banyan species is Auntie Sarah’s Banyan at the Menehune Botanical Garden in Kauai, Hawaii, which reaches 33 meters in height with a spreading branch and branches 76 meters wide and has more than 1,000 buffer roots.

Chinese banyan trees need a warm tropical climate and a moist soil atmosphere. But it can also withstand temperatures close to 0 °C. This species generally inhabits tropical rain forests, riverbanks, beaches, swamps, and mangrove forests.

At present Chinese banyan is widely distributed as an ornamental tree in North Africa, Iraq, Pakistan, Japan, Hawaii, Florida, Central America, and South America.

Chinese banyan trees can grow in cracks in walls, buildings, and other stone elements. This species also shows good tolerance to soil moisture, sulfur dioxide, lead cadmium, and salt.

In Brazil, the Chinese banyan tree has been used since the 19th century, when it was introduced by architect Auguste François Marie Glaziou to various parks in Rio de Janeiro. The Chinese banyan trees brought and planted by Auguste François Marie Glaziou began to look bigger after the 1970s.

Chinese banyan trees that are still young are considered to be very aggressive because they can grow anywhere even if there is little soil or on soil that has bad conditions.


Characteristics of Chinese Banyan Leaf

Ficus microcarpa Leaf
Source : Gercens

Chinese Banyan has bright green leaves on young leaves and dark green on older leaves. The length of each leaf is 4-6 cm and the width is around 2-3 cm.


Characteristics of Chinese Banyan Fruit

Ficus microcarpa Fruit
Source :

The fruit is shaped like most Ficus trees, it looks like a small berry that appears at each end of a branch. Green when young and reddish-orange when ripe.


Characteristics of Chinese Banyan Tree in the Wild

Ficus microcarpa Tree
Source : and Kim Starr

The Chinese banyan tree occupies places close to water. That’s because this tree likes moist soil and is resistant to the hot sun or under the shade of larger trees.

Chinese banyan roots can destroy anything around it such as asphalt, concrete, etc. Therefore, Chinese banyan trees are forbidden to be planted on the narrow roadside or beside buildings.


The Chinese banyan tree is used in traditional medicine in India, Malaysia, China, and Japan. In Japan, bark, root support, and dried leaves are traditionally used to cure fevers, while in China it is used traditionally to treat colds, malaria, bronchitis, and rheumatism.

The pharmacological properties of many Chinese trees will include antioxidant, antibacterial, anticancer, and anti-diabetes activities.


Almost every tree of the Ficus family is easy to propagate, it can be by stem cuttings, shoot cuttings, grafts, wind transplants, and plant from seeds. However, the most common method used to cultivate Chinese banyan trees is by graft and shoot cuttings.


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