The Lahaina Banyan Tree, Truly The Most Amazing Tree I’ve Ever Seen

When I mentioned in a post that I was heading off to Maui, Hawaii for a week, I received some wonderful suggestions of places to visit and things to see  and do while there. A couple of folks mentioned a special tree in the town of Lahaina called a Banyan tree. I had never heard of a Banyan tree before, but made a mental note to look for it if I ended up in the Lahaina area.

Initially, I hadn’t planned on renting a car in Hawaii, but I changed my mind once I was there since there were so many places I wanted to see that were a fair distance away from the resort where I was staying. On one of the days when I didn’t have anything else planned, I drove the short distance to Lahaina.

Lahaina Harbor, Maui Hawaii

 

The first thing I did after finding a place to park in this busy ocean-side harbor town–was to look for a place to eat. I was super hungry! I spotted the Paia Fishmarket on Front Street and decided to give it a try.

I ordered one of their fish taco plates and it was excellent. My timing was good because by the time I left around 30 minutes later, the restaurant was packed and the tables were all filled. Can definitely recommend the Paia Fishmarket if you ever find yourself in Maui.

Fish Taco from Paia Fish Market, Lahaina

 

After lunch, I walked across the street to a park which is actually the Courthouse Square. I was told this park was where the famous Banyan tree lived. As I walked toward the park, this was my view. Hmmm, this wasn’t what I expected. I had never seen a Banyan tree and knew nothing about them, but the closer I got, the more confused I became.

Banyan Tree, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 1

 

I saw these pretty berries on all the foliage and wondered if they were part of the Banyan tree.

Berries on Banyan Tree, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

 

As I continued walking forward and into the park in search of the famous Banyan tree, I became even more confused. What in the world were all these really long branches? I’d never seen such long, long branches!

Banyan Tree, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 4

 

And where was the Banyan tree?

Banyan Tree, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 5

 

Gradually it dawned on me that I was looking at it! All the branches and tree “trunks” were connected and it was everywhere! It was above me, it was to the right and to the left of me. It was in front and behind me. It was all around me! Everything I was seeing was Banyan tree!

This is the center trunk of this giant, sprawling Banyan tree in the Lahaina park.

Main Trunk of Banyan Tree in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

 

Banyan trees are definitely not like other trees. As I stood here in the park underneath this massive tree, I Googled to learn more. The Banyan tree is actually a fig tree that typically starts out its life by germinating in the crevices of a host tree. As it grows and grows, it produces aerial roots that hang down and take root wherever they touch the ground. You can see tons of aerial roots in this photo below.

Banyan Tree, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 2

 

So all those trunks you see in the photo below, and in the other photos in this post–those are all part of this one single Banyan tree that was planted here on April 24, 1873 by William Owen Smith, the then sheriff of Lahaina. He planted the tree to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first American Protestant mission. The tree was a gift from missionaries in India.

Banyan Tree, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 3

 

Once the aerial roots find earth and root themselves into the ground, they grow into trunks that send out new branches and new aerial roots of their own.

Banyan Tree, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 6

 

When this tree was first planted, it was only 8 feet tall. It now reaches 60 feet in height and has 16 major trunks, in addition to its original main trunk. The canopy of the tree spreads out over .66 acres. I noticed a few of the branches were so long, wood supports had been installed underneath for a bit of added support.

Support for Limb of Banyan Tree in Lahaina, Maui, Hiwaii

 

Banyan trees can live a very long time. The oldest one is in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden near Kolkata India and it’s estimated to be between 200-250 years old. You can see photos of that tree here: Oldest Banyan Tree. In the photos at that link, the photographer had to practically stand a block away from the tree just to fit it all into the photo. lol

The Banyan tree here in Lahaina is the oldest and largest Banyan tree in Hawaii. It’s also the largest in the United States. If you ever visit Lahaina, you must see it. Photos just don’t do it justice. It’s worth traveling all the way to Maui just to see this jaw-dropping tree! It’s truly spectacular!

Banyan Tree, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 8

 

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Comments

  1. That is one amazing tree Susan. WOW! I cannot believe how it is really all one tree. I would love to see that. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  2. Terri Santiago says:

    Hi Susan
    Wow on nature! Remarkable tree!!
    Did you get a chance to smell the orchids and plumeria flowers?
    Absolutely devine.
    Have a great day.

  3. I’d seen that tree long ago, but forgot how magnificent it is. Thanks for the refresh and background information on it. You had so many amazing adventures. You should revisit these photos in the depths of next winter 🙂

  4. Wow! I’ve seen Banyan trees in FL, but never anything like this!

  5. Santa Barbara, California has the Moreton Fig, a huge, famous tree that spreads out horizontally. It’s not as expansive as the Banyan you photographed but it’s a magical thing to behold.

  6. Charlotte says:

    Wow! That is amazing! I have never heard of that tree before, nice to learn something new. It is a beautiful tree.

  7. That’s amazing! I’m glad you got to see it while you were close by.

  8. I was mesmerized and enchanted by that tree, and the arts and crafts market that was taking place under it! Came home with a number of one of a kind items. Everyone should rent a car so to visit the tree and town. Also for the great restaurants and bars overlooking the water and neighboring island.

  9. Wanda Bradey says:

    It is an amazing site! I know you enjoyed this journey! Maui is beautiful. Did you eat at any of the food trucks? YUM! Glad you had a great time.
    I had mentioned I was going to the Holy Land. Wow! What a journey. Susan, I know you have visited a lot of places but I highly suggest the trip to Israel. I have posted my photos on Wanda F Bradey FB page. Enjoy if you have time.

  10. Cyndi Raines says:

    What an awesome experience, that’s some tree! One of many great sites on this wonderful tropical visit, right?! The stories and pictures you will be able to share with the grandkids! Wow! Thanks for sharing with us also.

  11. Would you believe I went there in 1972 with my best friend from high school? I remember being in awe of the tree as well. When we were there, we started talking to an old sailor who was sitting on a bench under the tree. He looked like something out of a book, pipe and all. He told us stories of being at sea and Lahaina in the old days. A lovely memory revisited by reading your blog!

  12. I was awed by it as well when I was there!!

  13. Thanks for this great post! Glad you had a great trip!

  14. I remember this Banyon tree from what I visited many, many years ago. It is a truly wondrous tree. I had never seen anything like it either. Simply amazing!

  15. Kathleen says:

    That taco looks yummy! Wow on the tree. Planted in 1873 and still going strong.

  16. Some of your photos of Maui are like mine! I love Maui! Glad you are sharing your adventure on your blog.

  17. Cecilia says:

    Wow Susan,
    I have never heard of that Banyan Tree before. It is beautiful and unbelievable! Once I read ‘One tree can make/start a forest’, well, I think, now I know what that means! lol

  18. Joyce Kitts says:

    I haven’t seen this banyan tree, however my husband and I saw a banyan tree in Jamaica while on a cruise. It was in the Shaw Park Gardens, the gardens of former hotel in Ochoa Rios. It was beautiful and I had never seen anything like it

  19. Linda B says:

    It is amazing to see but also to listen to. The birds are constantly singing. I am so glad you decided to go to Hawaii. There is nothing like the relaxation and beauty of the Hawaiian Islands. I remember a friend tried to describe it to me before I went the first time. She finally said that I would totally understand once I stepped off the plane. She was certainly right. It is paradise for sure. My husband and I love to go in September. Our anniversary is that month and the tourist season has really quieted down so it’s easy to get into restaurants and such. Also prices are so much less expensive in the off season. So glad you rented a car. A lot to see on that island. Hope you get to visit again someday.

  20. diane in northern wis says:

    I have stood under an amazing Banyan tree in Fort Myers, Florida too. I agree, they are truly awesome.

  21. One thing that I loved about that tree was the sound of the birds singing in it. The sound is so amazing, I took a video to record it the last time I was there. I still watch it every now and then.

  22. I’m here to tell you that the banyan tree has grown a great deal since I last saw it! Glorious.

  23. You took some great photos of my favorite tree. I remember doing the same thing you did when I first saw it. You are right that it alone is worth the trip to Maui!

  24. I’ve seen some beautiful Banyans when we lived in South Florida
    The ones from your trip are amazing!
    Thank you!!

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