Botanical name of Pipal tree is Ficus religiosa and belongs to the Moraceae. Peepal tree is native of South East Asia. It is also known as Bodhi Tree.
The Peepal tree can be traced back to the times of Indus Valley Civilization (3000 BC – 1700 BC) in the Mohenjodaro city and there is evidence that this tree was worshiped by Hindus during that time.
Peepal is a deciduous tree and grows to a height of 100 feet and the trunk, which is grey, can have a circumference of 3 meters. A gum like substance is also found on the tree trunk. The crown is wide with spreading branches. The leaves are heart shaped with narrow tips and can be 15 – 17 cms long and 8 to 12 cm wide. The leaf is offered to Lord Ganesha during 21 Patra pooja. “Vinayakaya Namaha Ashwatha Patram Samarpayami” is chanted while offering the leaf to the Lord.
Peepal tree has invisible flowers and the fruit is small around 1 to 1.5 cm in diameter.
Peepal tree is sacred to Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. Lord Buddha attained enlightenment (Bodhi) under a Peepal tree in Bodh Gaya and this tree is still present in Bodh Gaya.
Neem tree when planted with Peepal tree becomes the sacred Ashwath katte. Under this are installed idols of Nagaraja (snake god). Hindus visit Ashwath Katte early in the morning and circum-ambulate the tree.
In Kannada it is known as Arali mara and in Sanskrit it is known as Aswattha vriksha, Pippala vriksha. The tree is grown for ornamental purpose and for shade.
Many legends are associated with the Peepal tree. It is believed that Lord Vishnu hid in the Peepal tree, when the demons defeated the gods. It is believed that all the gods reside in the tree, the root being Brahma, the trunk Vishnu, and the leaves are Shiva.
Ficus religiosa is used to treat many ailments like asthma, diabetes, diarrhea, epilepsy, gastric problems, inflammatory disorders, ulcers, and infectious.
The skeleton of the leaves of the Peepal tree is used to make greeting cards.
Peepal tree is easily propagated by seeds or cuttings. Plant them under full sun and sufficient watering.