As one naturalist has noted in this popular book on the plants of western India, the Peepal tree is the most destructive of plants that flourish easily. This tree, held in veneration by Hindus and Buddhists, may grow in the cracks of walls, which are gradually split open by the expansion and extension of its roots. The question is: how does it manage to get nutrients in the soil-less environment? This question is what we’ll strive to answer below.
One of the most important foods of green plants is CO2, which they absorb from the air. That’s not all, of course; every plant must have water as well as minerals. This is why it might seem like a mystery how a peepal tree could grow on a bare wall that apparently lacks nutrients.
However, a bare wall is not as bare as it seems to be. In the first place, rain falls upon it, so the plant gets its water from that source. The water soaked up by the wall provides moisture during the period when there is no rain. In some cases, there could be situations where a leaking water pipe keeps the wall wet throughout the year.
All these water sources are also a means for the peepal tree to get its essential nutrients. Rain and leaking water themselves contain minute quantities of salts that are valuable to the Peepal plant. Besides, the water leaches out mineral salts that may be contained in the wall’s mortar. Lime, for instance, is a valuable nutrient, and mortar has plenty of lime. Nothing, of course, is better than a leaking drainage pipe which can supply all the essential nutrients for the growth of the Peepal tree.
In most cases, however, the supplies of water and nutrients on a bare wall are very scant. The Peepal which can grow in this fashion is more or less stunted, never reaching a large size. This might be just as well for most people; as mentioned above, the tree can be quite destructive. It’s probably for the best that it doesn’t grow into a full-fledge tree on a bare wall, as this can present a danger to the surrounding areas. Here are some other reasons why trees might stop growing.
When they grow in a larger space, peepal trees are used for ornamentation as well as shade. Being native to the Indian subcontinent, this tree comes in useful for providing shade on roads, parks, gardens, etc. It might not be the tallest tree in the world, but it thrives in hot and humid weather.
Their resilience, strength, and ubiquity in this are probably just a few reasons why this tree has a major role in the religions of this subcontinent as well. Buddha was believed to have attained enlightenment while meditating under a peepal tree, while Hindu ascetics meditate and perform other acts of worship around this tree as well.
What’s more, the fruit of the peepal tree is believed to have several benefits and is among some of the most nutritious fruits out there. If you’d like to grow your own peepal tree to gain benefits from its leaves and fruit, there are seeds for it available on the market. We can also choose to get a bonsai version of the peepal tree, or buy the powdered form of its fruit for easy consumption: