The so-called Bodhi Tree is a fig tree, but not every Ficus religiosacan be called a ‘Bodhi tree’:
A ‘Bodhi tree’ must be retraceable to its parent, another Bodhi tree, and the line of heritage goes on unto the first Bodhi tree under which Lord Gautama Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment.
The Ficus Religiosa has distinctive heart-shaped leaves and bears small figs that turn from green to purple. The trunk can have a diametre of 9.8 ft, and its total height can be up to 98ft.
In Sanskrit, Bodhi means “wisdom”, “enlightened”, and as a Sinhalization Bo or Peepal in India. The tree is native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, southwest China and Indochina.
The Buddhist legend tells that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment (bodhi) while meditating underneath the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, North India. The Sri Maha Bodhi’s planting date goes back to 288 BCE; that is the oldest verified age for any flowering plant (angiosperm).
Sadhus meditate beneath sacred fig trees and Hindus do pradakshina, a worship by circambulation: Seven pradakshinas are done around the tree in the morning time chanting “Vriksha Rajaya Namah”, “Salutation to the King of Trees”.
Ficus religiosa is used in traditional medicine for about 50 types of disorders including asthma, diabetes, diarrhea, epilepsy, gastric problems, inflammatory disorders, infectious and sexual disorders.