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Welcome to the World of Heritage Trees of Kolkata

9 December, 2021 12:17:55
Welcome to the World of Heritage Trees of Kolkata

Peepal Tree beside Birla Planetarium

They have stood for decades, some even nearing a century, some even before many young residents of Kolkata were born. They have waved cyclones, modernization, felling and yet kept on with their stoic charm, watching the hustle and bustle of the city pass by every day. They are witness to historic events, to daily toils of hawkers, to joy and pain of a city that by itself is more than three centuries old. There are some such Trees of Kolkata that have withstood the test of time. GB takes you on a Tree Walk to locate these unusual trees of Kolkata. Join us!

Just stands a huge Peepal Tree, home to different kinds of birds down generations. It’s a landmark tree over a busy intersection, that has protected many from lightning and thunderstorms. The common name of the tree is Bodhi Tree or Peepal, it is an incredibly common and intensely revered strangler fig tree found throughout the Indian subcontinent, with distinctive pointed leaves. Botanically known as Ficus religiosa, this tree has braved many storms and cyclones and still stands as a testimony to Kolkata’s heritage. For Heritage is not just about buildings, it is also about what makes up a city. 

A close companion of a Peepal tree is the usual Banyan tree. And one such very old Banyan tree that stands in ‘Chinatown’ of Tangra is seen at the crossing on South Tangra Road. Next time you go on your Chinese Food venture, do not forget to view this tree that welcomed many Chinese immigrants decades ago. Common name of this tree is Baragad or Bad. Banyan also happens to be the national tree of India and one of the largest species in the world, that has an unparalleled ability to spread its branches and aerial roots and survive for years. Its botamical name is Ficus benghalensis and it belongs to the Moraceae or Mulberry/Fig family.

Another Banyan that has grown with the city is the National Library Banyan Tree, a hulking banyan tree near the National Library acting as a shady canopy to many passers-by. But one tree that has always been on a naturalist’s list is the Ghost Tree or Kulu Tree of Victoria Memorial. Its buttressed trunk comes in compartments and have for decades served as a snuggling joint for young couples. Kulu is a North Indian dryland tree harvested for its sap and its botanical name is Sterculia urens. Victoria Memorial grounds boasts of some more unusual trees. Another being the Declining Tree, infront of its reflecting pool. Common name of this tree is Malsauri or Dhanva and it is found in South-Western India and also in Mughal Gardens. It is used for medicines. It belongs to the Sapotaceae or Chikoo family. 

But with the Christmas cheer around, can one forget the Araucaria tree that stands at the entrance of St Xavier’s College? This tree is very unique as it is found in the Southern Hemisphere, commonly called the Monkey Puzzle Tree or Monkey tail tree. It is an evergreen tree growing to 1–1.5 m (3–5 ft) in diameter and 30–40 m (100–130 ft) in height and is also the national tree of Chile. Araucaria araucana is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria. Because of the prevalence of similar species in ancient prehistory, it is sometimes called a living fossil. Its conservation status was changed to Endangered by the IUCN in 2013 due to the dwindling population caused by logging, forest fires, and grazing.

This New Caledonian pine tree is an upright, soft-leaved coniferous tree and has been guarding the gates of the college for years. So the next time you come across a gigantic or unusual tree in your neighbourhood, try to find its origin and write to us at

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