Sacred Fig (അരയാൽ)

Scientific Name: Ficus religiosa L.

Synonyms: Ficus caudata Stokes, Ficus peepul Griff.     

Unique ID: 75

Systematic Position

Class: Dicotyledonae

Sub Class: Monochlamydae                       

Series: Unisexuales

Family: Moraceae

Common Names

English – Sacred fig

Malayalam – അരയാൽ

Tamil –  Arasu

Hindi – Pipal



Description: Deciduous trees, to 25 m high; aerial roots absent; bark grey, smooth; exudation milky. Leaves simple, alternate, spiral; new leaves pink; stipules 1-1.5 cm long, lateral, ovate-lanceolate, puberulous; petiole 60-120 mm long, stout, glabrous, articulated, a gland at the apex below; lamina 5-13 x 4.5-12 cm, broadly ovate, base truncate or subcordate, apex caudate-acuminate, margin entire, undulate, glabrous, shining, coriaceous; 5-7-ribbed from base, lateral nerves 8-10 pairs, pinnate, slender, prominent beneath, looped near the margin, intercostae reticulate, prominent. Flowers unisexual; inflorescence a syconia, sessile, axillary, in pairs, obovoid or globose, twig wall thick; basal bracts 3, 3-5 mm long, ovate-obtuse, silky-puberulous, persistent, orifice, closed by 3 apical bracts in a disc 2-3 mm wide; internal bristles none; flowers of 4 kinds; male flowers ostiolar, sessile, in one ring; tepals 2, ovate-lanceolate, free, reddish; stamen 1; filaments 0.2 mm; anther oblong, parallel; female flowers sessile; tepals 3-4, linear-lanceolate, free, brownish, glabrous; ovary superior, ovoid-oblong, 1 mm, red-brown, style 1.5 mm, lateral, stigma rounded; gall flowers similar to female. Syconium 4-8 mm across, ripening pink, purple or black; achenes smooth; Flowering and fruiting: November-February


Habitat: Plains from the coast up to 1200m. Often planted around temples in Indian subcontinent.

Distribution:  East Himalayas; planted and naturalised in India and neighbouring countries

Uses:  Leaves are used for medicinal purposes.

Considered a holy tree in the hindu tradition. Figs eaten by birds. The fruits, leaves, bark and even the latex are used to prepare herbal remedies.